Uses of Strontium?

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Strontium is a reactive element found in minerals, used in fireworks, metal alloys, medicine, and sugar processing. It was used in old-fashioned color TVs and is still used in some cathode ray tubes. Strontium compounds are used in toothpaste, fluorescent lights, and corrosion-resistant coatings.

Strontium is a silvery metallic element, abbreviated Sr, with atomic number 38. It is a member of the alkali metal family of elements and, as such, is chemically similar to calcium and highly reactive. For this reason it is not found in nature in its pure form, but only as a component of various minerals. Pure strontium reacts violently with water and oxidizes rapidly in air, even combusting spontaneously in air when powdered. While it’s used for a number of things, strontium’s primary uses are in fireworks, metal alloys, medicine, and, to a lesser extent, the picture tubes of old-fashioned color televisions.

One of the first uses of strontium, and still used today, is for the processing of raw sugar. Strontium hydroxide is used to process sugar from sugar beets and is sometimes used to remove molasses from raw sugar. This strontium compound has historically been produced from the strontium minerals strontianite and celestite.

As of 2011, one of the major uses of strontium is in pyrotechnics. Its properties make it useful for producing certain vibrant red colors in fireworks, emergency flares, and tracer munitions. Strontium burns with an extremely bright red light. Other common uses for strontium include the formulation of several metal alloys, especially some steels and aluminum. It is also sometimes used in the refining of some metals.

One of the major uses of strontium in the past was in the cathode ray tubes (CRTs) of color television. While still in production, as of 2011, these are fast becoming less common. Strontium oxide is mixed with the glass and absorbs the X-rays generated by the CRT. This glass is mostly used for the viewing surface of the tube itself, but not the entire tube, as lead glass is used for the rest.

Some important uses of strontium are also found in the field of medicine. While research is still ongoing, some strontium compounds are thought to help prevent and treat osteoporosis and even reverse bone loss. Radioactive isotopes of strontium are also used to treat certain types of cancer, particularly that of the prostate gland in men and some highly advanced forms of bone cancer.

Science and industry have many other uses for strontium. Strontium is used in neurological research into the mechanisms by which neurons and chemical receptors work. The element is also found in some pigments, especially dyes and paints. Strontium compounds are used in toothpastes, fluorescent lights, and corrosion-resistant coatings for other metals. In the laboratory, strontium and its compounds are frequently used in the practice of analytical chemistry.

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