Scandium: the essentials

Scandium is a silvery-white metal which develops a slightly yellowish or pinkish cast upon exposure to air. It is relatively soft, and resembles yttrium and the rare-earth metals more than it resembles aluminium or titanium. Scandium reacts rapidly with many acids.

Scandium is apparently a much more abundant element in the sun and certain stars than on earth.

Table: basic information about and classifications of scandium.

Scandium: historical information

Scandium was discovered by Lars Fredrik Nilson at 1879 in Sweden. Origin of name: from the Latin word "Scandia" meaning "Scandinavia".

Scandium was discovered by Lars Frederick Nilson (a Scandinavian) in 1876 in the minerals euxenite and gadolinite, which had not yet been found anywhere except in Scandinavia. He and his coworkers were actually looking for rare earth metals. By processing 10 kg of euxenite and other residues of rare-earth minerals, Nilson was able to prepare about 2 g of scandium oxide (scandia, Sc2O3) of high purity.

In 1871 Mendeleev predicted that an element should exist that would resemble boron in its properties. He therefore called it ekaboron, (symbol Eb). Per Theodor Cleve found scandium oxide at about the same time. He noted that the new element was the element ekaboron predicted by Mendeleev in 1871.

Scandium: physical properties

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Scandium: orbital properties

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Isolation

Isolation: preparation of metallic samples of scandium is not normally necessary given that it is commercially avaialable. In practice littel scandium is produced. The mineral thortveitite contains 35-40% Sc2O3 is used to produce scandium metal but another important source is as a byproduct from uranium ore processing, even though these only contain 0.02% Sc2O3.

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scandium atomic number