Barium is a chemical element with the atomic number 56 and is represented by the chemical symbol Ba. It is a soft silvery metal that quickly oxidizes in air. This means that the free metal is never found naturally and is mostly extracted commercially from barite. This rapid rate of oxidation also reduces the available applications for the metal, but many barium compounds have important uses.
Uses of Barium
Barium is used to remove the last traces of oxygen and other undesirable gasses in vacuum tubes. The free metal is also be used as an alloy with nickel in vehicle ignitions.
The mineral barite (barium sulfate) is commonly used in the petroleum industry when drilling new wells. It is also be used as a filler in a variety of products, and this is common in the rubber industry. It is also given to patients undergoing x-rays of their digestive system because the barium improves the image. Barium sulfate and zinc sulfide are used to create a white pigment known as lithopone.
There are other smaller uses of barium compounds. Some of these are as follows:
Barium oxide is used in fluorescent lamps to help the release of electrons. It is also used in the production of certain types of glass, as is barium carbonate.
Certain compounds of barium are also used in fireworks to create the green colors.
Barium peroxide is used in railway construction and repair, as a bleaching agent and in certain types of tracer ammunition.
Barium acetate is used in the textile industry to set dyes and is also used for drying paint and varnish.
Barium fluoride can be used in the detection of X-rays and gamma rays. It is also used to make a optical components.
Barium titanate is used in capacitors, microphones and transducers.