Bismuth is the 83rd chemical element on the periodic table with the symbol of Bi. It has a silvery white color and was often mistaken for lead or tin before its discovery. The first person to show that it was different from these two elements was Claude François Geoffroy in 1753 and he is credited with its discovery. It isn’t widely used in industry, but it does have some very important uses.
Uses of bismuth
- Bismuth is mostly used as an ingredient in pharmaceutical products. It is used to treat diarrhea and some other digestive problems and diseases. It is also added to some eye drops that are used to treat eye infections.
- A common feature of alloys of bismuth is a low melting point. This means that they are suitable for use as solders. The added benefit of this is that toxic solders containing lead can be replaced by the safer bismuth.
- Another alloy containing bismuth utilizes its low melting point for fire detection.
- Lead is commonly being replaced by bismuth in many applications for safety reasons. Some of these replacements include; pigment for paint, fishing sinkers, bullets and shot, brass for plumbing and as an ingredient in grease for lubrication.
- A specific isotope of bismuth is used for treating patients with leukemia.
- Bismuth is used as a carrier for two uranium isotopes in nuclear reactors.
- It is used in ceramic glazes to produce iridescence (where a color of an object appears to change as you view it from a different angle).
- Bismuth and tellurium form a compound called Bismuth telluride, which is used in mobile refrigerators and for cooling computer processors.