More about Lead
Click here to find Lead Manufacturers | Discuss Lead & Other Topics
Atomic number 82 on the periodic table of elements, lead is a toxic metal with a multitude of interesting and useful properties. Prime among these are its exceptional corrosion resistance, high density and ductility. Because of its high density, lead is regularly used as radiation shielding, as well as in applications requiring high weight-per-volume. Lead is also useful in various alloys; tin and lead solders were widely used in many applications before the 1980s, and low grade pewter contains a small percentage of lead.
Lead is regularly used in lead-acid batteries, which are among the most widely used rechargeable batteries available, and are used in most automobiles. Although toxic, these batteries provide high output and have exceptional power-to-weight ratios; additionally, a high percentage of lead-acid batteries are recycled, thereby minimizing the dangers associated with improper disposal. Although once an important component of paints and construction products, lead is now rarely used in these applications due to health concerns associated with lead poisoning. Use of lead in gasoline has also been drastically reduced over the last thirty years for environmental reasons.
Percentage-wise, lead is a relatively rare element in the earth’s crust, although it is so easily found and mined that it is considered somewhat common. A large quantity of the lead used in the U.S. is actually recycled. In addition to its uses in alloys and as a pure metal, lead is also a constituent of a number of compounds, including lead silicate and lead nitrate. As a pure metal, it is an important component of nuclear reactors and x-ray facilities, where it blocks harmful excess radiation.
Lead is produced in various shapes and consistencies, including sheets, rods, wire, powder and foil. Its melting point is relatively low, at 327.5 degrees Celsius, and it is fairly soft at room temperature. It can be re-melted and is easily refined, making it an excellent substance for recycling programs. The majority of lead used in the U.S. is used for the production of lead-acid batteries.