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Some Applications of d and f-block Elements

Last Updated : 18 Jan, 2022
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Transition metals are typically characterized as elements with or capable of forming partially filled ‘d’ orbitals. Transition elements are d-block elements in groupings of three to eleven. Inner transition metals, which include the lanthanides and actinides, are another name for the f block elements. This requirement is also met because the d orbital is only partially occupied before the f orbitals.

D-Block Elements 

D-block elements are those present in the modern periodic table from the third to the twelfth groups. These elements’ valence electrons are in the d orbital. Transition elements or transition metals are other names for d-block elements. D block elements have electrons (1–10) in the d-orbital of the penultimate energy level and in the outermost orbital (1-2). Although electrons do not fill the ‘d’ orbital in group 12 metals, their chemistry is very similar to that of the preceding groups, hence they are classified as d block elements.

Applications of d-block elements

There are some major elements of d-block, for instance, iron and zinc. The applications of iron and zinc will be discussed separately and then, let’s discuss the application of other elements in general.

  • Iron
  1. Iron and its alloy, steel, are widely used in the construction sector.
  2. Iron is the most frequently utilized metal, accounting for more than 90% of global metal output.
  3. Because of its low cost and high strength, it is frequently used to withstand stress or transmit pressures in the construction of machinery and machine tools, trains, vehicles, ship hulls, concrete reinforcing bars, and the load-carrying framework of buildings.
  4. Because pure iron is fairly soft, it is usually mixed with alloying metals to form steel.
  5. They’re used to make bridges, electricity pylons, bicycle chains, cutting tools, and rifle barrels.
  6. Carbon is present in 3–5% of cast iron. It is utilized in the manufacture of pipes, valves, and pumps.
  7. In the Haber process, iron catalysts are employed to produce ammonia.
  8. Magnets can be made from this metal, as well as its alloys and compounds.
  • Zinc
  1. In fixed dry batteries, zinc is used as the negative anode.
  2. The majority of zinc is used to galvanize other metals, such as iron, to keep them from rusting.
  3. Galvanized steel is utilized in the construction of automotive bodies, street lamp posts, safety barriers, and suspension bridges.
  4. Zinc is used in large amounts to make die-castings, which are employed in the automotive, electrical, and hardware sectors. Zinc is also found in alloys including brass, nickel silver, and aluminum solder.
  5. Many items, including paints, rubber, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, inks, soaps, batteries, textiles, and electrical equipment, include zinc oxide. Zinc sulfide is a chemical that is used to make luminous paints, fluorescent lights, and x-ray screens.

Applications of other d-block elements

  1. Titanium is utilized in the manufacture of aircraft and spacecraft.
  2. Because titanium metal bonds effectively with bone, it has been used in surgical applications such as joint replacements (particularly hip joints) and dental implants.
  3. Titanium(IV) oxide is the most often used type of titanium. It’s a common pigment in house paint, artist’s paint, plastics, enamels, and paper.
  4. The metal tungsten is used to make electrical fibers.
  5. Manganese dioxide is utilized in dry battery cells as a component.
  6. Fly motors benefit greatly from niobium composites.
  7. Tantalum is a metal that is used to make expository weights.
  8. Photography employs the use of silver bromide.
  9. Many d-block or transition metals and their compounds are used as catalysts in chemical processes.
  10. Palladium chloride is used in the Wacker method of converting ethane to ethanol.

F-Block Elements

Elements with a f orbital that is being filled by electrons are referred to as f block elements. These elements have electrons (1 to 14) in the f orbital, (0 to 1) in the penultimate energy level’s d orbital, and (0 to 1) in the outermost orbital. The f block contains two series that correspond to the filling of 4f and 5f orbitals. The elements are in the 4f series from Ce to Lu and the 5f series from Th to Lw. Each series has 14 elements that occupy the ‘f’ orbital.

Application of f-block elements

  1. Lanthanide alloys are used to make instrumental steels and heat-resistant materials.
  2. Cerium is the primary lanthanide utilized for this purpose, along with trace amounts of lanthanum, neodymium, and praseodymium.
  3. These metals are also frequently employed in the petroleum industry, where they are used to refine crude oil into gasoline products.
  4. Lanthanide carbides, borides, and nitrides are used as refractories.
  5. Lanthanide oxides are used as abrasives in glass cleaning.
  6. Thorium is used in cancer treatment as well as illuminating gas mantles.
  7. Thorium oxide is utilized as a catalyst in the industry.
  8. Thorium can be utilized to generate nuclear power. It is almost three times as abundant as uranium and roughly as abundant as lead, and it is likely that thorium contains more energy than both uranium and fossil fuels.
  9. Uranium is used as an atomic fuel.
  10. Uranium is also used to fuel commercial nuclear reactors that generate energy, as well as to create isotopes that are employed in medical, industrial, and defense applications around the world.
  11. Plutonium is used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

Sample Problems

Question 1: Why is the separation of lanthanides elements difficult in the pure state?


Because the ionic radii of the lanthanides differ just slightly and their chemical properties are identical, separation of lanthanides elements in the pure state is difficult.

Question 2: What is the effect on the basic strength of hydroxides in lanthanides?


As the size of the lanthanide decreases from La to Lu and the covalent character of the hydroxides increases, the basic strength of the lanthanide decreases.

Question 3: What is actinide contraction?


Due to increased nuclear charge and electrons entering the inner (n-2) f orbital, the atomic size/ ionic radii of tri positive actinides ions decrease from Th to Lw. Actinide contraction, like lanthanide contraction, is characterised by a consistent decrease in size with increasing atomic number. Because of the insufficient shielding given by 5f electrons, the contraction becomes bigger over time.

Question 4: What are the trends observed with the chemical reactivity of actinides?


Because of their lower ionisation energy, actinides are more electropositive and reactive than lanthanides. They react when they come into contact with hot water. By reacting with oxidising chemicals, you can create a passive covering. There is the formation of halides and hydrides. Actinides are extremely effective reducers.

Question 5: Are inner transition metals reactive?


The f-block contains the inner transition metals, which are generally located at the bottom of the Periodic Table. They are nearly as reactive as alkali metals, and all actinides are toxic and have no commercial use. Radioactive elements, on the other hand, have the potential to be used as weapons or in nuclear power plants.

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