Understanding the periodic table is like unlocking a code that reveals the building blocks of our universe. Among these elements, metals stand out for their unique properties and essential role in our everyday lives. Furthermore, as you delve deeper into Chemistry and the periodic table, grasping the importance of metals becomes fundamental. Therefore, this article serves as a guide to demystify the periodic table, explore the characteristics of different metals, and highlight their significance in the world around us.

 

Overview of the Periodic Table

The periodic table of elements is a foundational tool in Chemistry that all students must know. It organizes the chemical elements based on their atomic number, electron configuration, and chemical properties. Furthermore, this chart not only categorizes elements but also serves as a roadmap for students to explore the properties and behavior of metals and non-metals alike.

Consequently, understanding the periodic table enables students to predict and comprehend various chemical reactions and interactions. Thus, mastering the periodic table is an essential step in any Chemistry education.

Metals

 

Group I Elements: Alkali Metals

Alkali metals exhibit several distinct physical and chemical properties that you must know in order to understand their behaviour.

These metals exhibit strong reducing properties due to a single valence electron with a +1 charge, contributing to their softness and making them easy to cut with a knife. Additionally, they possess low melting and boiling points, along with low densities.

Moving down the group (e.g., from Li to Na to K), their melting and boiling points, density and reactivity increase sequentially. 

Chemically, alkali metals react vigorously with water, forming metal hydroxide and hydrogen gas. This gives us the chemical equation of: Na (s) + H2O (l) → NaOH (aq) + H2 (g).

 

Group VII Elements: Halogens

Halogens exhibit physical and chemical properties that are critical for understanding their characteristics. As non-metals, they possess one valence electron with a charge of -1, making them strong oxidizing agents. Moreover, they exist as diatomic molecules with a simple covalent structure. Additionally, they have low melting and boiling points, appear as colored substances, and are highly reactive.

Moving down the group (e.g., from Cl to Br to I), their melting and boiling points increase, their colours intensify, and their reactivity decreases. 

At room temperature and pressure, you’ll be able to observe the following observations in Halogen elements. 

Halogen

Colour

Physical State

Cl2

Green-yellow

Gas

Br2

Reddish-brown

Liquid

I2

Black

Solid

 

Chemically, halogens undergo displacement reactions where a more reactive halogen displaces a less reactive halogen from its salt solution.

As such, we can observe the following equations and observations:

  • Chemical Equation: Cl2 (g) + 2 NaBr (aq) → 2NaCl (aq) + Br2 (l)
  • Observation: Solution changes from colourless to reddish-brown
  • Ionic Equation: Cl2 (g) + 2 Br- (aq) → 2 Cl- (aq) + Br2 (l)

 

Group 0 Elements: Noble Gases

Noble gases possess unique physical properties as they exist as monoatomic gases with stable electronic configurations, making them highly unreactive. 

These inert properties make noble gases valuable in various applications as shown below.

Noble Gases

 

Transition Elements: Transition Metals

Transition metals exhibit notable physical and chemical properties. For instance, they have high melting and boiling points, as well as high density. Moreover, these characteristics make them crucial components in various industrial applications.

These metals are characterised by their colourful compounds with variable oxidation states. Take for example, the following two transition metals: Copper and Iron.

Element

Colour of Compounds

Oxidation State

Copper

Copper (I) Oxide: Red

Copper (II) Oxide: Black

Cu+ and Cu2+

Iron

Iron (II) Oxide: Black

Iron (II) Oxide: Reddish-brown

Fe2+ and Fe3+

 

Moreover, transition metals serve as effective catalysts, playing pivotal roles in industrial processes. For instance, Nickel is essential in the manufacture of margarine through the hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Additionally, Iron is indispensable in the production of ammonia via the Haber process.

 

Physical & Chemical Properties of Metals

Metals exhibit high melting and boiling points, with exceptions found in Group 1 metals which have lower values. Metals also tend to possess high density, although Group 1 metals can be less dense than water.

Metals are also good conductors of electricity and often display shiny surfaces. Additionally, they possess malleable and ductile properties, making them versatile for various applications.

Chemically, metals can undergo displacement reactions. For example, more reactive metals can displace less reactive metals from their salt solutions.

For example, in the chemical reaction: Cu (s) + 2 AgNO3 (aq) →  Cu(NO3)2 (aq) + 2 Ag (s), several observations can be made – the solution changes from colourless to blue, while reddish-brown deposits disappear and are replaced by greyish deposits. The ionic equation for this reaction is Cu (s) + 2Ag+ (aq) → Cu2+ (aq) + 2 Ag (s).

 

Properties of Alloys

Alloys consist of a blend of a metal with one or more elements, which can include other metals or non-metals. Compared to pure metals, alloys typically feel harder and have greater resistance to corrosion or rusting.

Metals 2

 

Properties of Pure Metals

Pure metals consist solely of only one metal element. Pure metals typically feel soft and are less resistant to corrosion or rusting. 

Pure Metals

 

Importance of Recycling Metals

Some metals exist in the Earth’s crust in very small and limited quantities, making them scarce resources. Consequently, recycling metals is often more cost-effective than extracting them from their ores, while simultaneously helping to conserve the Earth’s natural resources. By recycling metals, we can effectively conserve the finite amount of these valuable resources available on Earth, ensuring their sustainable use for future generations.

 

Test your knowledge on Metals!

Checkpoint! Complete the table below with reference to the specific columns by filling the blanks with the words provided below.

  • Metal Reaction Column: Violent, Slow, or No Reaction.
  • Reactivity / Thermal Stability Column: Most or Least || Ease of Decomposition: Hardly or Easily
  • Metal Extraction by Electrolysis / Reduction of Metal Oxides: Yes or No

Table Q

 

Check your Answers! Did you get it right?

Metals A

 

Extraction of Iron in the Blast Furnace

The extraction of iron in the blast furnace stands as a fundamental process in metallurgy, crucial for producing steel and various alloys that form the backbone of modern industries reliant on metals

Discover the fascinating process of iron extraction in the blast furnace by watching the video below. Understanding how metals like iron are extracted is crucial for Chemistry students. Moreover, the video will provide a detailed explanation of blast furnace operation, highlighting the intricate steps involved in transforming raw materials into usable metals. Additionally, you will gain insights into the chemical reactions and conditions required for the extraction process, enhancing your understanding of metallurgy and its applications.

 

What is Added into the Blast Furnace?

In the top section of the blast furnace, the raw materials include haematite (iron ore containing Fe2O3), coke (composed mainly of carbon), and limestone (calcium carbonate; CaCO3). These materials undergo a series of complex chemical reactions as they descend through the furnace. In the bottom section of the blast furnace, introducing hot air facilitates the chemical reactions required for extracting metals.

 

What Happens in the Blast Furnace?

Medium

 

In Zone 1, coke undergoes oxidation by oxygen in the hot air, resulting in an exothermic reaction. We can represent this process through the equation: C (s) + O2 (g) → CO2 (g).

In Zone 2, carbon dioxide further reacts with carbon to produce carbon monoxide. This process can be represented by the equation: CO2 (g) + C (s) → 2 CO (g).

In Zone 3, carbon monoxide would reduce iron (III) oxide in the haematite to form molten iron, which will sink to the bottom of the furnace. Likewise, this process can be represented by the equation: Fe2O3 (s) + 3 CO (g) → 2 Fe (l) + 3 CO2 (g).

As Waste Gas, limestone would undergo thermal decomposition, which is represented by the equation: CaCo3 (s) → CaO (s) + CO2 (g).

Lastly, at the Bottom Section of the Blast Furnace, silicon dioxide (acidic impurities) would be removed by reacting with (basic) calcium oxide. This reaction would form slag, which would then float on top of the molten iron as it is less dense than iron. Molten iron and slag are then tapped off separately at the bottom of the furnace. This series of reactions can be represented by the equation: CaO (s) + SiO2 (s) → CaSiO3 (l).

 

Preventing Rust in Metals: Iron 

Iron, a common example of pure metals, corrodes in the presence of water and oxygen to form rust. This process, which is highly relevant to metals, can be represented by the word equation: Iron + Oxygen + Water → Hydrated Iron (III) Oxide. In terms of chemical equations, this can be represented as 4 Fe (s) + 3 O2 (g) + 2 H2O (l) → 2 Fe2O3⋅H2O (s).

A significant concern related to metals is rusting. Rusting can be prevented by coating iron with a layer or oil, or by galvanising (coating iron with zinc). These methods are crucial to protect iron from being exposed to water and oxygen in the atmosphere, thereby preventing rusting.

Another effective method, specifically for metals, is to prevent rusting by performing sacrificial protection. For example, we can attach iron to a block of a more reactive metal, such as magnesium. The sacrificial metal (more reactive metal), would then corrode in place of iron.

 

Types of Steel in the Metals Industry

Steel is a versatile alloy of iron and carbon, and exists in various forms tailored for specific applications within the metals industries. In the following three pointers, you will see how each type of steel plays a vital role in various sectors of the metals industry through its unique properties that cater to the specific functional requirements of the industry. 

  1. Low Carbon Steel (Mild Steel) features a lower percentage of carbon and a higher percentage of iron. Mild steel is valued for its hardness and malleability, making it indispensable in numerous applications, particularly in the creation of car bodies and structural components where strength and formability is key.
  2. High Carbon Steel has a higher percentage of carbon and a lower percentage of iron, thus exhibiting enhanced hardness but is more brittle compared to Mild Steel. It is primarily used in the manufacturing of cutting tools and blades where durability and edge retention are paramount.
  3. Lastly, Stainless Steel is a form of alloy that combines iron with carbon, chromium, and nickel, which gives it exceptional resistance to corrosion. Stainless steel is largely used in the production of cutlery and surgical instruments where hygiene, durability, and resistance to rust are crucial.

 

Test your Understanding!

Have you fully grasped the significance of the periodic table and its relation to metals? Test your knowledge by tackling the question below!

 

Checkpoint! Answer the following question by filling in the blanks below.

This question is about Period 4. For each of the following, select an element from Period 4, potassium to Krypton which matches the description. Each element may be used once, more than once, or not at all. 

(a) Its only oxidation state is 0. _________________
(b) It is a liquid at room temperature and pressure. _________________
(c) It can be reduced to an ion of the type X. _________________
(d) Its salt solutions are mostly blue and its oxide is black. _________________

 

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