The elements in the periodic table all have their use in applications in the real world. This article is about the elements in group number one, the alkali metals, and the alkali’s applications and uses.
The alkali metals are the most reactive of all the elements in the periodic table. The reason for this is that they all have one valance electron, or one electron in their outer energy level. In nature you will never find them in their elemental state, simply because they are so reactive so they always bond with other elements.
The alkali metals are soft, and all except for Cesium are silver colored. Looking at a detailed periodic table you will find that they are all low-density. The alkali metals get their name from their ability to react with water to form alkaline solutions, or basic solutions, and they will also react with the halogens in group 7 to form salt compounds. The halogens all have 7 valence electrons, so the alkalis fit right in, providing the last electron.
The specific elements in this group are Lithium (Li), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Rubidium (Rb), Cesium (Cs), and Francium (Fr). Hydrogen isn’t really considered a part of the alkali metals, although it is in group 1. These metals all have their role in today’s world, as we will find out shortly.
Lithium (Li) has the highest heat capacity of all solids, and it’s therefore often used in applications involving heat transfer. You find them in Lithium-ion batteries, and in medicine treating mental disorders and migraine.
Sodium (Na) is often used in soaps, because it can provide a harder soap than other elements (have a higher melting point, and can take more before the soap starts to foam). You can also find its use in street lighting, in so called sodium vapor lamps. Sodium also has many chemical abilities, and one of its uses is in purifying molten melts.
Potassium (K) is a major element in fertilizers, as it provides plants with nutrition, and it can be found in most soil types. You can use potassium table salt to reduce your sodium intake, and potassium is also found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including bananas.
The fifth element in group one, Rubidium (Rb) has limited uses. The primary applications for Rubidium are in vacuum tubes and photocells. In the future we might discover more applications for Rb, but as for right now it’s handled with precautions.
Cesium (Cs) can be found as a base for drilling fluids in the oil industry, and it is an environmentally safe choice. It can also be found in atomic clocks.
The last element in group one is Francium (Fr). With Francium there are a few interesting facts. It is the second rarest naturally occurring element, and it has the lowest electronegativity of all. Francium is very unstable, and is highly radioactive. These factors make Francium very unsuitable for any commercial applications, and it’s not used in today’s industry.