Scandium is one of the chemical elements, also a rare metal found on the earth. In 1871, Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev, a Russian chemist, predicted the existence of this element. Then it was later discovered by Lars Fredrik Nilson in 1879. It is represented by the symbol “Sc”. In the periodic table, the atomic number of scandium is 21. The atomic weight, on the other hand, is 44.965 g/mol. On earth, scandium or “Sc” is commonly found in Scandanavia. It occurs as minute quantities in many mineral species found on the earth. There are several properties as well as uses of the element scandium. 

Scandium Element

Scandium is also one of the expensive elements due to its scarcity and limited production. The price of pure scandium can be approximately $7000/ per kg over even higher than that. Scandium has a high cosmic abundance as well. Also, it is the twenty-third (23rd) most abundant element in the sun.

It is an element that is considered non-toxic. Although, there isn’t much extensive research in terms of health and safety issues with scandium. Scandium chloride is a compound that can be of a lethal dose. Therefore, this compound and other compounds of scandium should be handled with care as they can be considered for moderate toxicity. 

Physical Properties of Scandium

There are many important properties of scandium that distinguish it from other elements. These physical and chemical properties of scandium are mentioned below:

  1. It appears to be a silvery-white metal

  2. It has a moderately soft texture

  3. Scandium tarnishes in the air

  4. It also burns easily

  5. Scandium reacts with water

  6. The electronic configuration of Scandium is [Ar]3d14s2. 

  7. The melting point of the metal is 1541oC.

  8. The boiling point of the metal is 2836oC.

  9. The scandium's density is of 2.99 grams per cubic centimeter

Scandium Properties 

The element Scandium has vast properties and its uses have been discussed. Some of the properties are highly distinguishable from other elements and it defines the various purpose and applications of the element scandium. More research is going on in this field for discovering recent features and applications of scandium. 

A few important properties of scandium are that the mass number of this element is 44.96 u. Scandium belongs to Group 3, Period 4, and d-block of the periodic table. The atomic structure of scandium consists of 21 protons and 24 neutrons. Scandium also displays properties of electronegativity as it’s a metal. Scandium’s electronegativity is relatively high, i.e, 1.36. 

Scandium is commonly found on Earth in the +3 oxidation state. The element scandium, when in the oxidation state, bears a close resemblance to other rare metals on Earth. Due to its significantly small ionic radius, some of the behavior and characteristics of scandium are rare from other earth elements. For the same reason, the element scandium, in its ionic form, is a relatively strong acid and also has a higher tendency of forming complexions. 

Fun Facts

I. Some  Fun Facts About Scandium Are:

  • On earth, scandium is the 50th most abundant metal.

  •  Most of the isotopes of scandium have a half-live of lesser than two-minutes

  • When it is in the oxidation state, such as Sc2O3, the color of scandium changes to yellow or similar to yellow. It has a valency of 3+.

  •  Euxenite, gadolinite, and thortveitite are the only concentrated sources of the element. They are commonly found in Scandinavia and Madagascar. Thortveitite is a scandium silicate and contains the largest amount of scandium, i.e, 34%. Like scandium, this mineral is also rare on Earth. 

II. Extraction 

There are two common ways through which scandium can be extracted. 

  • The first way is extracting it as uranium mill tailing’s by-product. 

  • The second method through which scandium can be prepared is when molten scandium chlorides, lithium, and potassium is electrolyzed using electrodes of molten zinc and tungsten wire. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Common Uses or Applications of the Element Scandium?

The element scandium can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of these uses are mentioned below:

1. Scandium is commonly used for research purposes.

2. Due to the low density and high melting point of scandium, it is commonly used as an alloy with aluminum.

3. It can also be used in fighter planes, high-end bicycle frames, baseball bats, and other military and high performing applications.

4. Another common alloy is scandium iodine. This alloy is used in mercury vapor lamps. Through this alloy of scandium, these lamps can replicate sunlight in studios as in the film and television industry.

5. Scandium is also used as a radioactive isotope scandium-46 which is used in the oil refining industry.

2, Does Scandium Have Isotopes?

Yes, the element scandium also exists as isotopes. There are thirteen (13) isotopes of the element. Even the naturally occurring Scandium exists in the form of an isotope; 45Sc. These isotopes of scandium have a mass number from 40-52. Moreover, the half-lives of these isotopes are also known. Scandium also has radioisotopes. Twenty-five radioisotopes have been discovered as of now. The most stable radioisotope is  46Sc, which has a half-life of 83.8 days. The other common radioisotopes of scandium are  47Sc,  47S,c, and  44Sc with half-life at 3.35 days, 43.7 hours, and 3.97 hours respectively.