Silver is a transition metal that is characterized by its white shiny ‘silver’ color in its natural solid state. Of all the metals, silver has the highest conductivity traits for electrical and thermal applications. Silver has an atomic weight of 107.8682, a melting point of 1763.2 °F, and a boiling point of 3924 °F. Silver is most commonly used in jewelry and utensil crafts; silver is also used for electrical purposes, as a component in photographic film and mirrors, and as a catalyst for some chemical reactions.
Silver is found free in nature, combined with other elements such as arsenic, chlorine, and sulfur, and found in minerals ores including argentite and pyragyrite. There are various isolation procedures that can be used to obtain small and large amounts of pure silver.
Silver is commercially obtained as a by-product of copper, gold, lead, and nickel processing. Isolation processes for silver includes using the Parkes process on lead metal, electrolytic procedures on various metals, and on a small scale using copper metal. The Parkes process uses pyrometallurgical technology to isolate silver from lead in a liquid-liquid extraction process. The first stage of the process is to melt the lead/silver compound and combine it with liquid zinc. The sliver is attracted to the zinc and forms a separate liquid layer under the top zinc layer, the liquid lead remains on the bottom. The zinc-silver solution is heated removing the zinc from the silver.
Silver is isolated from other metals such as copper and zinc using electrolytic purification of the solution of metals and electrolysis the silver with a nitrate solution. In the laboratory, silver can be isolated by dipping copper metal into a solution of silver nitrate forming pure silver crystals in a solution of copper nitrate.
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