The 14th International Conference on
Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences
The name "halogen" means "salt-producing". When halogens react with metals they produce a wide range of salts, including calcium fluoride, sodium chloride (common table salt), silver bromide and potassium iodide.
The group of halogens is the only periodic table group that contains elements in three of the main states of matter at standard temperature and pressure. All of the halogens form acids when bonded to hydrogen. Most halogens are typically produced from minerals or salts. The middle halogens, that is chlorine, bromine and iodine, are often used as disinfectants. Organobromides are the most important class of flame retardants, while elemental halogens are dangerous and can be lethally toxic.
Hydrochloric acid was known to alchemists and early chemists. However, elemental chlorine was not produced until 1774, when Carl Wilhelm Scheele heated hydrochloric acid with manganese dioxide. Scheele called the element "dephlogisticated muriatic acid", which is how chlorine was known for 33 years. In 1807, Humphry Davy investigated chlorine and discovered that it is an actual element. Chlorine combined with hydrochloric acid, as well as sulfuric acid in certain instances created chlorine gas which was a poisonous gas during World War I. It displaced oxygen in contaminated areas and replaced common oxygenated air with the toxic chlorine gas. In which the gas would burn human tissue externally and internally, especially the lungs making breathing difficult or impossible depending on level of contamination.
In 1931, Fred Allison claimed to have discovered element 85 with a magneto-optical machine, and named the element Alabamine, but was mistaken. In 1937, Rajendralal De claimed to have discovered element 85 in minerals, and called the element dakine, but he was also mistaken. An attempt at discovering element 85 in 1939 by Horia Hulubei and Yvette Cauchois via spectroscopy was also unsuccessful, as was an attempt in the same year by Walter Minder, who discovered an iodine-like element resulting from beta decay of polonium. Element 85, now named astatine, was produced successfully in 1940 by Dale R. Corson, K.R. Mackenzie, and Emilio G. Segre, who bombarded bismuth with alpha particles.
The halogens show trends in chemical bond energy moving from top to bottom of the periodic table column with fluorine deviating slightly. (It follows trend in having the highest bond energy in compounds with other atoms, but it has very weak bonds within the diatomic F2 molecule.) This means, as you go down the periodic table, the reactivity of the element will decrease because of the increasing size of the atoms.
The hydrogen-halogen reactions get gradually less reactive toward the heavier halogens. A fluorine-hydrogen reaction is explosive even when it is dark and cold. A chlorine-hydrogen reaction is also explosive, but only in the presence of light and heat. A bromine-hydrogen reaction is even less explosive; it is explosive only when exposed to flames. Iodine and astatine only partially react with hydrogen, forming equilibria.
All of the hydrogen halides are irritants. Hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride are highly acidic. Hydrogen fluoride is used as an industrial chemical, and is highly toxic, causing pulmonary edema and damaging cells. Hydrogen chloride is also a dangerous chemical. Breathing in gas with more than fifty parts per million of hydrogen chloride can cause death in humans. Hydrogen bromide is even more toxic and irritating than hydrogen chloride. Breathing in gas with more than thirty parts per million of hydrogen bromide can be lethal to humans. Hydrogen iodide, like other hydrogen halides, is toxic.
Iron wool can react rapidly with fluorine to form the white compound iron(III) fluoride even in cold temperatures. When chlorine comes into contact with heated iron, they react to form the black iron (III) chloride. However, if the reaction conditions are moist, this reaction will instead result in a reddish-brown product. Iron can also react with bromine to form iron(III) bromide. This compound is reddish-brown in dry conditions. Iron's reaction with bromine is less reactive than its reaction with fluorine or chlorine. Hot iron can also react with iodine, but it forms iron(II) iodide. This compound may be gray, but the reaction is always contaminated with excess iodine, so it is not known for sure. Iron's reaction with iodine is less vigorous than its reaction with the lighter halogens.
Many synthetic organic compounds such as plastic polymers, and a few natural ones, contain halogen atoms; these are known as halogenated compounds or organic halides. Chlorine is by far the most abundant of the halogens in seawater, and the only one needed in relatively large amounts (as chloride ions) by humans. For example, chloride ions play a key role in brain function by mediating the action of the inhibitory transmitter GABA and are also used by the body to produce stomach acid. Iodine is needed in trace amounts for the production of thyroid hormones such as thyroxine. Organohalogens are also synthesized through the nucleophilic abstraction reaction.
Approximately six million metric tons of the fluorine mineral fluorite are produced each year. Four hundred-thousand metric tons of hydrofluoric acid are made each year. Fluorine gas is made from hydrofluoric acid produced as a by-product in phosphoric acid manufacture. Approximately 15,000 metric tons of fluorine gas are made per year.
Approximately 450,000 metric tons of bromine are produced each year. Fifty percent of all bromine produced is produced in the United States, 35% in Israel, and most of the remainder in China. Historically, bromine was produced by adding sulfuric acid and bleaching powder to natural brine. However, in modern times, bromine is produced by electrolysis, a method invented by Herbert Dow. It is also possible to produce bromine by passing chlorine through seawater and then passing air through the seawater.
Both chlorine and bromine are used as disinfectants for drinking water, swimming pools, fresh wounds, spas, dishes, and surfaces. They kill bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms through a process known as sterilization. Their reactivity is also put to use in bleaching. Sodium hypochlorite, which is produced from chlorine, is the active ingredient of most fabric bleaches, and chlorine-derived bleaches are used in the production of some paper products. Chlorine also reacts with sodium to create sodium chloride, which is table salt.