Journal: Practical Periodic Trends
Have you ever been cooking and run out of a key ingredient? You might look frantically around the kitchen to find something that is similar enough to your missing ingredient to use in its place. For example, some cake recipes call for replacing some of the oil or butter with applesauce. What are the key characteristics of applesauce and oil that make this substitution possible?
Each of these scenarios describes a situation in which a company has “run out” of an element that is used for a particular purpose. As an industry consultant, the company turns to you for help.
SCENARIO 1: A major computer chip manufacturer has lost its supplier of silicon. Silicon is widely used in the semiconductor industry because its electrical conductivity is in between that of a conductor and that of an insulator.
SCENARIO 2: Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is the main component of many drain cleaners. A cleaning product manufacturer makes sodium hydroxide by reacting sodium with water. The factoryâ€™s supply of sodium metal is running low and they must find a substitute that will react with water in the same way as sodium.
SCENARIO 3: A glass company specializes in producing glass tubes filled with inert gas at low pressure. Applying a voltage to the tubes makes the gas glow brightly, so they are widely used as signs for businesses. The company can no longer obtain the neon, the main gas it uses to fill its tubes.
For each scenario:
- Use your knowledge of periodic trends to suggest a substitute element for the task
- Explain why the substitute element is likely to work
- Identify how the substitute elementâ€™s properties are likely to differ from those of the original element and how these differences could create a problem