Roles of chemical elements

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This table is designed to show the role(s) performed by each chemical element, in nature and in technology.

Z = Atomic number     Sym. = Symbol     Per. = Period     Gr. = Group

Z Sym. Element Per. Gr. Role(s) in nature
(non-living and living)
Role(s) in technology
(old and new)
  1 H Hydrogen  1  1 Astronomy: source of power by nuclear fusion (proton–proton chain reaction and CNO cycle)
Biology: One of the most common elements in living organisms
Petrochemical industry: hydrodealkylation, hydrodesulfurization
Various industries: hydrogenation
  2 He Helium  1 18 Astronomy: source of power by nuclear fusion (alpha process and triple-alpha process)
Various industries: cryogenics, pressurization, controlled atmosphere, welding
  3 Li Lithium  2  1 Ceramics and glass: flux, component of ovenware

Electricity and electronics: batteries
Various industries: lubricating greases

  4 Be Beryllium  2  2 Radiography: radiation windows
Aeronautics and astronautics: lightweight structural components
  5 B Boron  2 13 Ceramics and glass: borosilicate glass
Cleaning products: detergents and bleaches
Insecticides: boric acid
Electronics: semiconductors
  6 C Carbon  2 14 Biology: One of the most common elements in living organisms
See also: Carbon-based life
Fossil fuels: coal, methane and petroleum
Textile industry: cellulose
Metallurgy: alloys, especially carbon steel
  7 N Nitrogen  2 15 Bacteria and archaea: nitrogen fixation by diazotrophs
All forms of life on Earth: essential component of amino acids and of nucleic acids
Earth's atmosphere, soil, and life forms: nitrogen cycle
See also: CHON.
Chemical industry: nitrogen fixation by the Haber process
Astronautics: nitric acid and hydrazine
  8 O Oxygen  2 16 Animals: inhaled in respiration
Plants: exhaled in respiration;
Biology: one of the most common elements in living organisms
Metallurgy: smelting of iron ore into steel
Chemical industry: ethylene + O2 —> ethylene oxide —> ethylene glycol —> many products
Medicine
Water treatment
  9 F Fluorine  2 17 Various industries: fluorocarbons and derivatives as refrigerants and as anaesthetics
Aluminium production: cryolite as solvent
 10 Ne Neon  2 18 Signage: neon signs
Electronics: vacuum tubes
 11 Na Sodium  3  1 See also: Sodium in biology.
 12 Mg Magnesium  3  2 All life forms: essential catalyst for using and making DNA and RNA
Plants: photosynthesis
See also: Magnesium in biology.
Metallurgy: aluminium alloys, production of iron, steel, and titanium
Automotive industry: lightweight components
Electronics
 13 Al Aluminium  3 13
 14 Si Silicon  3 14 Earth's crust: silicate minerals
Diatoms, radiolaria, and siliceous sponges: biogenic silica as a structural material
Construction: Portland cement, concrete
Electronics: semiconductors
 15 P Phosphorus  3 15 Biology: structure of DNA and RNA
part of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
structure of bones and teeth
Agriculture: fertilizers
 16 S Sulfur  3 16 Biology: part of the amino acids cysteine and methionine, and of all polypeptides, proteins, and enzymes that contain them
See also: Sulfur assimilation.
Agriculture: fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides
 17 Cl Chlorine  3 17
 18 Ar Argon  3 18
 19 K Potassium  4  1 Animals: neuron function, electrolyte balance
See also: Potassium in biology.
Agriculture: fertilizers
 20 Ca Calcium  4  2 Animals: structure of bones and teeth
See also: Calcium in biology.
Construction: cements and mortars
 21 Sc Scandium  4  3
 22 Ti Titanium  4  4
 23 V Vanadium  4  5
 24 Cr Chromium  4  6
 25 Mn Manganese  4  7
 26 Fe Iron  4  8
 27 Co Cobalt  4  9
 28 Ni Nickel  4 10
 29 Cu Copper  4 11 See also: Copper in health.
 30 Zn Zinc  4 12
 31 Ga Gallium  4 13
 32 Ge Germanium  4 14
 33 As Arsenic  4 15 See also: Arsenic biochemistry.
 34 Se Selenium  4 16
 35 Br Bromine  4 17
 36 Kr Krypton  4 18
 37 Rb Rubidium  5  1
 38 Sr Strontium  5  2
 39 Y Yttrium  5  3
 40 Zr Zirconium  5  4
 41 Nb Niobium  5  5
 42 Mo Molybdenum  5  6
 43 Tc Technetium  5  7
 44 Ru Ruthenium  5  8
 45 Rh Rhodium  5  9
 46 Pd Palladium  5 10
 47 Ag Silver  5 11
 48 Cd Cadmium  5 12
 49 In Indium  5 13
 50 Sn Tin  5 14
 51 Sb Antimony  5 15
 52 Te Tellurium  5 16
 53 I Iodine  5 17 See also: Iodine in biology.
 54 Xe Xenon  5 18
 55 Cs Cesium  6  1
 56 Ba Barium  6  2
 57 La Lanthanum  6  3
 58 Ce Cerium  6  3
 59 Pr Praseodymium  6  3
 60 Nd Neodymium  6  3
 61 Pm Promethium  6  3
 62 Sm Samarium  6  3
 63 Eu Europium  6  3
 64 Gd Gadolinium  6  3
 65 Tb Terbium  6  3
 66 Dy Dysprosium  6  3
 67 Ho Holmium  6  3
 68 Er Erbium  6  3
 69 Tm Thulium  6  3
 70 Yb Ytterbium  6  3
 71 Lu Lutetium  6  3
 72 Hf Hafnium  6  4
 73 Ta Tantalum  6  5
 74 W Tungsten  6  6
 75 Re Rhenium  6  7
 76 Os Osmium  6  8
 77 Ir Iridium  6  9
 78 Pt Platinum  6 10
 79 Au Gold  6 11
 80 Hg Mercury  6 12
 81 Tl Thallium  6 13
 82 Pb Lead  6 14
 83 Bi Bismuth  6 15
 84 Po Polonium  6 16
 85 At Astatine  6 17
 86 Rn Radon  6 18
 87 Fr Francium  7  1
 88 Ra Radium  7  2
 89 Ac Actinium  7  3
 90 Th Thorium  7  3
 91 Pa Protactinium  7  3
 92 U Uranium  7  3
 93 Np Neptunium  7  3
 94 Pu Plutonium  7  3
 95 Am Americium  7  3
 96 Cm Curium  7  3
 97 Bk Berkelium  7  3
 98 Cf Californium  7  3
 99 Es Einsteinium  7  3
100 Fm Fermium  7  3
101 Md Mendelevium  7  3
102 No Nobelium  7  3
103 Lr Lawrencium  7  3
104 Rf Rutherfordium  7  4
105 Db Dubnium  7  5
106 Sg Seaborgium  7  6
107 Bh Bohrium  7  7
108 Hs Hassium  7  8
109 Mt Meitnerium  7  9
110 Ds Darmstadtium  7 10
111 Rg Roentgenium  7 11
112 Cn Copernicium  7 12
113 Uut Ununtrium  7 13
114 Fl Flerovium  7 14
115 Uup Ununpentium  7 15
116 Lv Livermorium  7 16
117 Uus Ununseptium  7 17
118 Uuo Ununoctium  7 18

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