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It's Elemental

The Element Scandium

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21 Sc Scandium 44.955908

Atomic Number: 21

Atomic Weight: 44.955908

Melting Point: 1814 K (1541°C or 2806°F)

Boiling Point: 3109 K (2836°C or 5137°F)

Density: 2.99 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 4

Group Number: 3

Group Name: none

What's in a name? Named for Scandinavia.

Say what? Scandium is pronounced as SKAN-dee-em.

History and Uses:

Scandium was discovered by Lars Fredrik Nilson, a Swedish chemist, in 1879 while attempting to produce a sample of pure ytterbia from 10 kilograms of the mineral euxenite ((Y, Ca, Er, La, Ce, U, Th)(Nb, Ta, Ti)2O6). Scandium can be obtained from the minerals thortveitite ((Sc, Y)2Si2O7), bazzite (Be3(Sc, Al)2Si6O18) and wiikite, but is usually obtained as a byproduct of refining uranium.

Metallic scandium was first produced in 1937 and the first pound (0.45 kilograms) of pure scandium was produced in 1960. Scandium is a soft, light metal that might have applications in the aerospace industry. With a cost of $270 per gram ($122,500 per pound), scandium is too expensive for widespread use.

Alloys of scandium and aluminum are used in some kinds of athletic equipment, such as aluminum baseball bats, bicycle frames and lacrosse sticks. It is expected that scandium-aluminum alloys will be important in the manufacture of fuel cells.

Scientists have only studied a few compounds of scandium. About 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of scandium oxide (Sc2O3), also known as scandia, are used each year in the United States in the production of high intensity lights. Scandium iodide (ScI3) is added to mercury vapor lamps so that they will emit light that closely resembles sunlight.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 2.2×101 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 6×10-7 milligrams per liter

Number of Stable Isotopes: 1 (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 6.561 eV

Oxidation States: +3

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d1


Citation and linking information

For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.