Discovery of Phosphorus
Uses of Phosphorus
In nature, the two most popular kinds of phosphorus can be found: red and white. Red phosphorus is extremely toxic, being capable of burning human skin if touched. White phosphorus, however, is considered non-toxic.
Finding pure phosphorus in nature almost never happens. To convert the phosphates that are found into usable materials, there are two techniques that can be used. The first is technique is the acidulation of crushed rock, normally using sulfuric or phosphoric acids. When acidulated, refined calcium hydrate phosphates are formed. Another technique is to use an electric furnace to reduce the phosphate with carbon, forming the elemental phosphorus.
- There are 23 isotopes of phosphorus, but only 1 is stable
- Hennig Brand, the discoverer of phosphorus, was the first person to discover an element
- It is the sixth most abundant element in living organisms
- White phosphorus can spontaneously combust in air while red phosphorus needs friction to ignite it
- It is in DNA, RNA, ATP, and cell membranes
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