Atomic Number: 5
Atomic Symbol: B
Atomic Category: metalloid
Atomic Mass: 10.81
Boiling Point: 4000 degrees Celsius
Melting Point: 2075 degrees Celsius
Boron, and it’s numerous compounds, have been to some extent since the times of early Egypt. Egyptians relied on an ore known as natron, which is a combination of borates and common salts, for their mummification process. In China, borax glazes were used as early as C.E. 300. Even the Romans used boron compounds in their glass making.
Despite these early uses, the element itself was not isolated until 1808. A scientific team made up of Sir Humphry Davy, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, and Louis Jaques Thenard were able to isolate the element to 50% purity through the reduction of boric acid with sodium or magnesium. These men, however, failed to recognize the substance as it’s own element. This discovery was made by Jakob Berzelius and was later expounded upon my American chemist W. Weintraub who produced the first pure boron in 1909.
Borides, subsidies of boron, are known to be some of the hardest compounds synthetically created. Both borides rhenium diboride (ReB2) and cubic-Boron nitride are hard enough to scratch a diamond, but still not as durable. Even with being a hair less durable than diamonds, these specific borides have been developed as a substitute for diamond coated tools.
Boron does not appear in nature in its pure elemental form, but is found in various combinations such as borax, boric acid, colemanite, kernite, ulexite, and borates. Naturally, boron is an essential plant nutrient, but only in the correct doses. While it is required for maintaining cell wall integrity, too much can tip the scales and cause necrosis in the leaves as well as poor overall growth.
Boron is naturally released into the environment through natural sources such as oceans, volcanoes, and geothermal steam. Some industries also allow boron and borides into the environment. While there currently is no major risk known, it is important to note that boron cannot be destroyed in the environment, it can only change form by becoming attached or separated to particles in soil, sediment, and water.
Current uses of different forms of boron and its various forms include:
* Pyrotechnic flares (green fireworks, specifically)
* Insecticide (boric acid)
* Laundry detergent (Borax)
* Advance aerospace structures
* Gulf clubs
* Fishing rods
* Fission control in reactors
* Fire retardants
* Photographic materials
* Wood preservatives
* Soaps and cleaners
* Leather tanning