chromium (Cr)


`A sample of chromium.

chromium plating

Spoons are chromium-plated by being immersed in a bath of chromium salts through which an electric current flows.

Chromium (Cr) is a gray-white, metallic element in group VIB of the periodic table. It also a transition element. Chromium's only commercially important ore is chromite, a mixed oxide of iron and chromium, FeO.Cr2O3. This is reduced to a ferrochromium alloy by carbon or silicon; pure chromium is obtained by reducing chromium (III) oxide with aluminum. Although normally dull gray, chromium will take a high polish and is used extensively as an electroplated coating. It is also used as an ingredient of many hard and corrosion-resistant alloys. A typical stainless steel may contain 18 percent of chromium and 8 percent of nickel.


Chromium compounds are used as pigments in paints and by the leather industry for the chrome tanning of hides. The textile dyeing industry uses chromium as mordants, or fixatives, to improve the brilliance and fastness of certain dyestuffs.


Chromium forms two series of salts, called chromium (I), or chromous, and chromium (II), or chromic. It also forms chromates (VI), containing the ion CrO42-. Its most common isotope is 52Cr.


Chromium, which is not found free in nature, was first obtained in 1798 by the French chemist Louis-Nicholas Vauquelin by heating (and thereby reducing) the ore crocite (PbCrO4, lead chromate). Shortly after Vauquelin's discovery, a German chemist named Tassaert discovered chromium in the ore chromite.


The name "chromium" comes from the Greek chroma meaning "color", in reference to the fact that chromium results in the distinctive coloration of a variety of materials. For example, the green color of emerald is caused by the presence of very small amounts of chromium in the crystal.


atomic number 24
atomic mass 51.996
electronic configuration 1s22s22p63s23p63d54s1
first ionization energy 1,520.6 kJ/mol
atomic radius 71 pm
covalent radius 97 pm
relative density 7.19
melting point 1,890°C (3,424°F)
boiling point 2,672°C (4,842°F)