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    Industrial Uses Of Alkali Metals

    By Sumit Saini
    27 Nov'22  6 min read
    Industrial Uses Of Alkali Metals
    Synopsis

    NCERT Class 11 Chemistry discusses some of the important applications of Alkali metals. They are the elements belonging to the first group in the modern periodic table. Alkali metals have multiple applications in the industrial processes. This topic is important for exams like JEE Mains and NEET, hence here, we discuss the application of Alkali metals in detail.

    Industrial Uses Of Alkali Metals
    Synopsis

    NCERT Class 11 Chemistry discusses some of the important applications of Alkali metals. They are the elements belonging to the first group in the modern periodic table. Alkali metals have multiple applications in the industrial processes. This topic is important for exams like JEE Mains and NEET, hence here, we discuss the application of Alkali metals in detail.

    Alkali metals are the elements belonging to the Group 1 of the Modern Periodic Table. Alkali metals have ns1 valence electronic configuration. In the modern periodic table, the periodicity of the elements depends upon the atomic number of the elements, hence all the elements having similar electronic configuration displays similar properties. Alkali elements belong to the s-block of the periodic table and the elements belonging to the s-block are hydrogen, lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium and francium respectively down the group.

    Properties of Alkali Metals

    Alkali metals shows various properties, some of the important properties which are responsible for various applications are:

    1. They are generally soft and shiny in nature.

    2. They are highly reactive in presence of water, they are not found in isolated states in nature as they react very fast in the exposure of the air. Hence some of the alkali metals are stored in the kerosene etc.

    3. Due to high reactivity, alkali metals are oxidised rapidly in the presence of air, they also produce colourful flame when burned in the presence of oxygen.

    4. Alkali metals have low ionisation enthalpy so as to attain the noble gas configuration.

    5. Alkali metals are strong reducing agents, malleable and ductile in nature.

    6. Alkali metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.

    Also check - Chemistry: Easy Way To Master The Modern Periodic Table Of Elements

    Element

    Symbol

    Atomic number

    Electronic configuration

    Lithium

    Li

    3

    1s22s1

    Sodium

    Na

    11

    3s1

    Potassium

    K

    19

    4s1

    Rubidium

    Rb

    37

    5s1

    Cesium

    Cs

    55

    6s1

    Francium

    Fr

    87

    7s1

    All the Alkali metals listed above are important for multiple applications, many of them are widely used in various industries in the manufacturing processes. Here we will be seeing the industrial and daily use applications of the major Alkali metals in detail.

    Applications of Alkali Metals

    Lithium

    Lithium is considered as the lightest metal available on the earth. Lithium is an important element as has multiple applications in the manufacturing processes. Johan Arfvedson discovered Lithium in 1817 during petalite analysis. Lithium comes from the Greek word ‘lithos’.

    Uses of Lithium

    1. Lithium is used as an alloy for aircraft building.

    2. Heat resistant ceramics and glasses use Lithium as raw material.

    3. Lithium Deuteride is used as the fuel in thermonuclear weapons.

    4. Lithium batteries are revolutionising the market space of electric vehicles, cell phones and other electronic devices.

    5. Lithium is used as lubricating grease.

    6. Firecrackers use Lithium compounds as the raw material which is responsible for the production of the red luminance.

    Sodium

    Sodium is the most commonly used substance in everyday life in our food in the form of sodium chloride better known as common salt. Electrolysis method is used to separate sodium from the sodium chloride in which electric current is passed through the solution.

    Uses of Sodium

    1. Sodium imparts lustre, hence it is used as lustre in the metals.

    2. Use of Sodium in nuclear reactors can be seen widely as coolant.

    3. In the production of soap, sodium is used.

    4. Sodium and compounds in other forms are used in textiles, petroleum and chemical industries.

    5. Sodium application can be seen in the street lights and sodium vapour lamps as it gives the bright luminance in yellow colour.

    6. Sodium Iodide is one of the important compounds of the sodium which is used to treat ringworm.

    Potassium

    Potassium is the element which comes after the sodium in the first group of the periodic table. Potassium is an important element which is responsible for the proper functioning of our body.

    Lets see the uses of potassium.

    Uses of Potassium

    1. In agriculture, potassium is used which is responsible for the improvement in the water retention,nutrient value and yield of a crop.

    2. Potassium is responsible for maintaining the blood pressure and acidity levels in our body.

    3. Potassium hydroxide is used in the manufacturing process of the detergents.

    4. Potassium is heavily used in the potassium based fertilisers for the growth of the plants.

    5. Potassium nitrate is one of the most widely used food preservatives.

    Also, check - Tips to prepare Motion along a straight line for NSEP

    Rubidium

    Rubidium is an element which comes below potassium in the first group of the periodic table. Rubidium is a radioactive element which is generally liquid at room temperature. Rubidium is a silvery-white coloured metallic element of the alkali group .

    Uses of Rubidium

    1. Rubidium being the radioactive element, is used in the fission reactions.

    2. Rubidium and its components in the form of Rubidium Carbonate is used in making optical glasses.

    3. Rubidium is also used in the manufacture of atomic clocks and photocells.

    4. Rubidium is used in the laser cooling process.

    Cesium and Francium

    Cesium and Francium are the last elements of the alkali metals series. Cesium is one of the most electropositive elements in the periodic table and it is highly toxic in nature.

    Francium has the lowest electronegativity among all the elements in the periodic table which is highly radioactive in nature. Francium is a rare element and hence it is not used much.

    Francium is still under scientific discovery for its applications. Due to short half life, Francium decays very rapidly.

    Below are some of the important uses of the Cesium and francium:

    1. Cesium-134 is used in the nuclear power industry.

    2. Cesium is used in photovoltaic cells as it is highly electropositive.

    3. Cesium is used as a catalyst in the hydrogenation process of organic synthesis of compounds.

    4. Cesium is used in the manufacturing of military aircraft.

    5. Francium uses are still under research and its limited use can be seen in the spectroscopic experiments.

    Pattern of Questions on Alkali Metals in JEE-Mains and NEET

    Q1. As compared to lithium, sodium reacts quickly with water because

    A) Its molecular weight is less

    B) It is more electronegative

    C) It is more electropositive

    D) It is a metal

    Ans. Sodium reacts with water more vigorously than lithium because it is more electropositive in nature and gives electrons easily.

    Hence option (C) is correct.

    Q2. Sodium metal can be stored under

    A) Benzene

    B) Kerosene

    C) Alcohol

    D) Toluene

    Ans. Sodium being a highly reactive element, if kept in open it can explosively react with oxygen to catch fire. Hence to prevent accidental explosion, sodium is stored in kerosene oil.

    Hence option (B) correct.

    Q3. Which one of the following is used as a disinfectant in water treatment

    A) Alum

    B) Charcoal

    C) Kieselguhr

    D) Potassium permanganate

    Ans. Water disinfection refers to the removal or killing of pathogenic microorganisms present in the water. Microorganisms are deactivated resulting in termination of growth and reproduction.

    Potassium permanganate is a weak disinfectant, hence, used in water treatment process.

    Hence option (D) correct.

    Q4. Which one of the following will react most vigorously with water?

    A) Li

    B) K

    C) Rb

    D) Na

    Ans:

    Reactivity of s block elements increases on moving from top to bottom in a group. Hence, Rubidium reacts most vigorously with water.

    Hence option (C) is the answer.

    Q5. Hydrogen bomb is based on the principle of

    A) Nuclear fission

    B) Natural radioactivity

    C) Nuclear fusion

    D) Artificial radioactivity

    Ans:

    Hydrogen bomb is based on the principle of fusion of isotopes of hydrogen.

    Hence option (C) is the answer.

    Q6. KO2(potassium superoxide) is used in oxygen cylinders in space and submarines, because:

    A) It absorbs CO2 and increases O2 content

    B) It eliminates moisture

    C) It absorbs CO2

    D) It produces ozone

    Ans:

    Potassium superoxide eliminates moisture, hence it is used in oxygen cylinder.

    Hence option (B) is the answer.

    Q7. Molecular formula of Glauber's salt is:

    a) MgSO4.7H2O

    b) FeSO4.7H2O

    c) CuSO4.5H2O

    d) Na2SO4.10H2O

    Answer:

    Molecular formula of Glauber's salt is Na2SO4.10H2O and it is used in the manufacture of detergents and paper pulping process.

    Mentioned above are some of the most widely known applications and questions related to alkali metals. As the alkali metals are highly reactive in nature and some of them are radioactive in nature, proper handling of such metals is a must. With the advancement in nuclear technology for electricity generation, some of the radioactive elements from alkali metals can be used as a fuel for nuclear reactors.

    • Chemistry
    • Physical sciences
    • Nature
    • Materials
    • Artificial materials
    • Chemical substances
    • Manufacturing
    • Metal
    • Atoms
    • Chemical elements

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