Any guesses on which metal grizzles and is very common in our day-to-day life? This metal is also completely non-toxic, making it an ideal material for battery replacement.
That would be bismuth.
One can find bismuth’s application in nuclear reactors and medicines. The metal is also benign, unlike other metals that can harm people and the environment.
The usage of the metal has been traced back to ancient Egyptian times, but it was officially discovered in 1753 by Claude Jefferey Jeanene.
The position of bismuth, which is non-toxic, on the periodic table between poisonous materials like lead and polonium is still a mystery.
The medicinal nature of the metal is used to treat stomach ulcers and makes up the primary ingredient in Pepto Bismol syrup.
Dr. Robert Hoye, a lecturer at the Imperial College of London, is putting bismuth-based compounds in making photovoltaic cells, which are used to convert light to energy. The same properties can potentially enable researchers to use the same in solar cells, thus making it possible to replace batteries in indoor electronics like home sensors and health monitors.
The added advantage of bismuth being benign and non-toxic, unlike other metals like lead, cadmium, and tellurium, can help reduce water and soil pollution arising from e-wastes.
Bismuth has some unique characteristics that make it different from other metals. The metal displays the Hall Effect, which means that it can resist getting magnetized and is repelled by a magnetic field. Bismuth has a relatively high electrical resistance, making its thermal conductivity the lowest among metals after Mercury. Bismuth also expands when it freezes, with just three metals showing the same properties – silicon, gallium, germanium, and antimony.
Bismuth is widely used in cosmetics, low-melting alloys, fire-fighting sensors & systems, and as a replacement for lead in guns.
Bismuth is found in small quantities as a pure metal on the earth’s crust and largely in compounds such as Bismuthinite or Bismuth Sulphide. Bismuth is primarily obtained as a byproduct in the extraction processes of lead, copper, tin, silver, and gold ores found in Canada, Bolivia, Japan, Mexico, and Peru.
Bismuth compounds are used as a catalyst in the production of synthetic fiber and rubber, and the metal is also used in making sharp casing of objects which are subjected to high temperatures, as it expands when heated. The metal also finds application in nuclear reactors and in a process called ‘Cold Fusion,’ designed to create trans-Uranium metals.