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
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,
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
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catalog or contact us via our website or at 877-81P-PLUS (877-817-7587).