Manganese is the first element in the seventh column of the periodic table. It is classified as a transition metal. Manganese atoms have 25 electrons and 25 protons with 30 neutrons in the most abundant isotope.Characteristics and PropertiesUnder standard conditions manganese is a solid metal with a silvery-gray color. In many ways manganese resembles iron, which is the element next to it in the periodic table. In its pure form, it is so brittle that it can”t be machined without breaking.Pure manganese can have a shiny surface, but tarnishes when exposed to air. It will also slowly rust or decompose when coming into contact with water.Manganese is a fairly active element and can form a number of oxidation states. The most stable is +2.Where is manganese found on Earth?Manganese is mostly found in the Earth”s crust where it is the twelfth most abundant element. It is found in a number of minerals and ores such as pyrolusite, bruanite, and psilomelane. Trace amounts are found in ocean water as well as in the atmosphere.Most of the world”s manganese is found in South Africa and Australia. The most important ore that is mined is pyrolusite.A fair amount of manganese is also expected to exist on the ocean floor. However, it has been impractical and too expensive to harvest this manganese.
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How is manganese used today?The majority of manganese that is produced by industry is for the production of metal alloys. It is used widely in steel including very strong steel and in making stainless steel. It is also used in aluminum alloys, primarily in beverage cans where it increases the resistance against corrosion and helps with the stiffness.Other applications include batteries, as an additive in gasoline, a pigment in paint, and as coloring in ceramics and glass.Manganese plays an important role in biological life. It is used by a number of enzymes. In the human body it is important for strong bones as well as liver and kidney functioning. It is also important for the process of photosynthesis in plants.How was it discovered?The first scientist to isolate the element manganese was Swedish chemist Johan G. Gahn in 1774. Other scientists had known of the existence of the element prior to this, but none had been able to isolate it.Where did manganese get its name?The name comes from the Latin word “magnes”, which means magnet. It gets this name because its compounds are used in making glass. Don”t get confused though, despite its name, manganese is not magnetic.IsotopesManganese has one stable isotope in nature, manganese-55.Interesting Facts about ManganeseIt was once considered part of the “iron group” of elements as it was on the row of transition metals with iron and had similar characteristics to iron.It is thought that overexposure to manganese can cause some neurological (brain) disorders.Although we need it to survive, our bodies cannot store manganese.Manganese dioxide was used as paint many thousands of years ago.An adult human will have a total of around 12 mg of manganese in their body.
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