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Science Innovation Centre · 059 · Praseodymium

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Praseodymium is a soft malleable, silvery-yellow metal. It is a member of the lanthanide group of the periodic table of elements. It reacts slowly with oxygen: when exposed to air it forms a green oxide that does not protect it from further oxidation. It is more resistant to corrosion in air the other rare metals, but it still needs to be stored under oil or coated with plastic. It reacts rapidly with water.

A major use of the metal is in a pyrophoric alloy used in cigarettes lighter flints. Praseodymium compounds have different uses: the oxide is used in carbon electrodes for arc lighting, and it is known for its ability to give glass a nice yellow colour. This glass filters out the infrared radiation, so it is used in the goggles which protect the eyes of welders. The salts are used to colour enamel and glass. Praseodymium can be used as alloying agent with magnesium to create high strength metals that are used in aircraft engines.

Praseodymium is one of the rare chemicals that can be found in houses in equipment such as colour televisions, fluorescent lamps, energy-saving lamps and glasses. All rare chemicals have comparable properties. The use of praseodymium is still growing, due to the fact that it is suited to produce catalysers and to polish glass.