The lack of reactivity of the group 18 elements is so firmly established in the collective mind of the masses, the recognition of new noble gases brings in a lot of excitement. The group 18 elements are called as inert gases, rare gases and also noble gases. The members of group 18 in the modern periodic table are:
These gases are so called due to the stability of these elements. This stability is due to the completely filled outermost shells of the elements. The inert gases are used in various applications irrespective of their inert or scarcely reactive nature.
Uses of noble gases:
- In metallurgical processes, argon is widely used in order to provide the necessary inert atmosphere. This inert atmosphere plays an important role in welding titanium, aluminum, stainless steel, and magnesium. It is also used in the production of titanium.
- A limited amount of argon is used in germanium and silicon crystals which are used in electric light bulbs, transistors etc.
- The boiling point of helium is the least when compared to any other liquid. It is used to obtain the lowest temperatures required in lasers.
- Helium is used in nuclear reactors as a cooling gas and used as a flow-gas in liquid-gas chromatography. It finds its application in airships and helium balloons.
- Helium balloons are used to check the weather of a particular region. Helium is preferred over hydrogen though hydrogen is cheaper, as helium is readily available and hydrogen is highly inflammable. Hence due to safety issues helium is preferred in aircrafts.
- It is used by divers to dilute oxygen over nitrogen in the gas cylinders used by them as nitrogen can easily be dissolved in the blood which results in a painful condition called as bends. The risk of helium causing bends is slightly lower than nitrogen.
- Neon is used in discharge tubes which is the reason behind the reddish-orange glow produced by neon lights.
- Xenon and krypton find its application in photographic flash units due to the generation of a very bright light. It is also used in lighthouses.
- Neon, xenon, and krypton are used to produce different color lights.
Read more about Noble Gases – Physical and Chemical Properties.