Thorium: uses

The following uses for thorium are gathered from a number of sources as well as from anecdotal comments. I'd be delighted to receive corrections as well as additional referenced uses (please use the feedback mechanism to add uses).

  • preparation of the "Welsbach mantle", used for portable gas lights. These mantles consist of thorium oxide (ThO2) with about 1% cerium oxide and other ingredients. They glow with a dazzling light when heated in a gas flame
  • alloying element for magnesium, imparting high strength and creep resistance at high temperatures
  • used to coat tungsten wire used in electronic equipment because it has a low work-function and high electron emission
  • oxide is used to control the grain size of tungsten used for electric lamps
  • oxide is used for high-temperature laboratory crucibles
  • glasses containing thorium oxide have a high refractive index and low dispersion. They are therefore used for high quality camera lenses and scientific instruments
  • oxide is a catalyst for the conversion of ammonia to nitric acid, petroleum cracking, and sulphuric acid production
  • source of nuclear energy

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