All About Argon

Argon is a colorless, odorless, inert gas that is grouped in the Noble gases. Argon received its name from the Greek word for “lazy,” referring to its tendency to have little reactivity when it comes to forming compounds. This gas is most commonly used in welding practices and likewise found often in fluorescent lighting.

According to Chemicool, a large quantity of the argon on earth is the isotope argon-40, which is formed from the radioactive decay of potassium-40. However, argon in space is generated from stars, through a process in which two hydrogen nuclei fuse with silicon-32, resulting in the isotope argon-36.

Argon, even though considered inert, is not limited. In fact, this gas makes up around 0.9 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. According to calculations by Chemicool, this means there are around 65 million metric tons of argon present in the atmosphere, and the amount continues to rise as a result of the decay of potassium-40.

To name some of its properties, argon (Ar) has the atomic number 18 and an atomic weight of 39.948. At room temperature, Argon is a gas.

Argon was first discovered in 1785 when Henry Cavendish, a British scientist, discovered a fraction of air that seemed especially inert. Initially, Cavendish could not determine what this air was. It was not over one hundred years later in 1894 that two men, Lord Rayleigh and Scottish chemist William Ramsey could accurately identify and explain the gas, eventually earning themselves the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this discovery. Not only this, but studying argon’s elemental properties also led Ramsey to the discovery of helium, neon, krypton, and xenon.

Due to its inertness, argon is often employed in industrial practices that call for a non-reactive atmosphere. Likewise, argon serves as an effective insulator, leading to its common use in warming divers during deep-sea diving. Argon is likewise used in historical preservation and is pumped around important documents such as the Magna Carta and a world map that dates back all the way to 1507. Unlike oxygen and other reactive elements, the argon helps protect the paper and ink on these fragile documents.

Additionally, there are several lesser-known uses for argon. For example, argon is used in neon lights that shine blue, since neon itself gives off an orange-red color. Also, argon is often employed in laser technology, including the lasers used in vision correction surgeries such as LASIK and PRK procedures. Argon has even been used to discover contaminated groundwater in certain parts of the United States. In this case, argon and other noble gases were injected into wells where they mixed with methane.

Currently, there is a significant amount of research being conducted on argon to determine additional potential uses of the gas. For example, it is currently being considered as a potential alternative to the expensive gas xenon and its role in treatment of brain injuries. Likewise, some experiments suggest that argon could potentially be used to limit brain injuries that have occurred a result of oxygen deprivation or other traumatic incidents. A review published in the Medical Gas Research journal discovered that in many cases, treating injuries with argon significantly reduced the death of brain cells. Researchers are not yet clear about why argon effects brain cells in this way. So far, argon has been used in this research by either being applied directly to cells in a culture dish or distributed mixed with oxygen in a face mask for animal studies. As argon research continues, it is growing increasingly likely that human trials will start eventually. However, there appear to be risks involved with argon treatment, thus more research must be carried out until this practice can be applied.

Whether you’re looking for high quality argon to be used in the medical industry, welding, or any other industry that utilizes specialty gases, PurityPlus has a plethora of specialty gas products to meet your need. We have a large selection of specialty gases and specialty gas equipment, along with the resources and experts on hand to answer your questions and assist your needs. For more information, browse our online catalog or contact us via our website or at 877-81P-PLUS (877-817-7587).