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Tantalum Tantalum symbol Ta is a very white ductile and malleable metallic element Tantalum is one of the transition elements of the periodic table The atomic number of Tantalum is 73 It was first discovered in 1802 by Anders Ekebura of Sweden and then first obtained in pure form in 1820 by the Swedish chemist Baron Jons Jakob Berzelius Tantalum is soluble in fused alkalies insoluble in sulfuric hydrochloric and nitric acids and soluble in hydrofluoric acid It ignites in air to form tantalum pentoxide a white infusible substances that combines with metallic oxides or hydroxides to form compounds called tantalites The element melts at about 2996 C boils at about 5425 C and has a specific gravity of 166 The atomic weight of Tantalum is 18094 Tantalum belongs to the group of metals that includes vanadium and niobium It ranks about 53rd among the elements in natural abundance in the earths crust Principal deposits of the metal occur in Australia and Scandinavia In the United States small deposits are found associated with the pegmatite veins of the Black Hills of South Dakota It is usually found combined with niobium and is then separated and converted into a metal through chemical processes Commercially Tantalum is prepared by the electrolysis of fused potassium tantaliflouride or of tantalum compounds dissolved in dilute sulfuric acid It may be surprising since Tantalum is not often heard of but the element is very useful in everyday products Because it is more resistant than platinum to many corrosive agents tantalum has largely replaced platinum is standard weights and in laboratory ware The largest use of tantalum is for capacitors in electronic circuits and rectifiers in low-voltage circuits such as railway- signaling systems It is also used for aircraft and missile parts
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