Thorium: the essentials

Thorium is a source of nuclear power. There is probably more untapped energy available for use from thorium in the minerals of the earth's crust than from combined uranium and fossil fuel sources. Much of the internal heat the earth has been attributed to thorium and uranium.

When pure, thorium is a silvery white metal which is air-stable and retains its lustre for several months. When contaminated with the oxide, thorium slowly tarnishes in air, becoming grey and finally black. Thorium oxide has a melting point of 3300°C, the highest of all oxides. Only a few elements, such as tungsten, and a few compounds, such as tantalum carbide, have higher melting points.

Thorium is slowly attacked by water, but does not dissolve readily in most common acids, except hydrochloric. Powdered thorium metal is often pyrophoric and should be carefully handled.When heated in air, thorium turnings ignite and burn brilliantly with a white light.

Thorium is named for Thor, the Scandinavian god of war. It is found in thorite and thorianite in New England (USA) and other sites.

Thorium: historical information

Thorium was discovered by Jöns Berzelius in 1829 at Sweden. Origin of name: named after "Thor", the mythological Scandinavian god of war.

Thorium was discovered by Berzelius in 1828 in a mineral given to him by the Reverend Has Morten Thrane Esmark.

Thorium around us Read more »

Thorium has no biological role.

Thorium is recovered commercially from the mineral monazite sand (a mixture of calcium, cerium, thorium, and other rare earth metal phosphates). It is found in thorite and thorianite (thorium oxide, ThO2) in New England (USA) and elsewhere. Much of the earth's internal heat has been attributed to thorium and uranium. There may be more energy available for use from thorium in the minerals of the earth's crust than from all combined uranium and fossil fuel sources.

Abundances for cobalt in a number of different environments. More abundance data » »
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms Links
Universe 0.4 0.002 Abundance in the universe of the chemical elements displayed on a miniature periodic table
Crustal rocks 6000 540 Abundance in the earth's crust of the chemical elements displayed on a miniature periodic table
Human (no data) ppb by weight (no data) atoms relative to C = 1000000 Abundance in humans of the chemical elements displayed on a miniature periodic table

Physical properties Read more »

Crystal structure Read more »

The solid state structure of thorium is: ccp (cubic close-packed).

Thorium: orbital properties Read more »

Thorium atoms have 90 electrons and the shell structure is 2.8.18.32.18.10.2. The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Thorium is [Rn].6d2.7s2 and the term symbol of Thorium is 3F2.

Isolation

Isolation: coming soon!

Thorium isotopes Read more »

Table. Stables isotopes of cobalt.
Isotope Mass / Da Natural
abundance
(atom %)
Nuclear
spin (I)
Nuclear
magnetic
moment (μ/μN)
232Th 100 0

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