Bromine: Occurrence, Properties, Uses & Isotopes of Bromine


Bromine is one of the members of the halogen family which makes group VIIA of the periodic table. Like other halogens, its salts are quite famous and are widely used. Bromine has 35 electrons. The atomic number of bromine is 35 whereas its atomic weight is 79.

Naming and History

Bromine got its name from the Greek word “bromos” which means “stench”. This is because bromine is really stinky and has a bad and pungent odor.

History reveals that a student name Carl Lowig at Heidelberg collected bromine which he produced from saltwater near his house. His professor asked him to produce more so they could further study it.

While he was doing, the French scientist Antoine Jerome Ballard 1826 published his findings and discovery about the new elements. He passes chlorine gas through the residue of brine. Red-orange gas was released which he thought was a new element.

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Occurrence of Bromine

Bromine is abundant in nature but not be found I its pure elemental form. It occurs in its salt forms such as bromide salts, in combination with other compounds and part of some rocks in Earth’s crust.

It is also present in waters rich in salts, brines, and salt lakes. The major suppliers of bromine in the world are China, Japan, Jordan, and Wales. The most common of its salts are sodium and potassium bromide.


Properties of Bromine

Bromine is the only non-metal which exists in liquid form at room temperature. It is the brownish-red liquid of pungent and stinky odor. It can easily vaporize as a red vapor at standard temperature and pressure.

Bromine in its pure elemental form is extremely hazardous and a severe irritant of the throat, eyes, and nose. It can cause injuries and severe burns to the skin. The melting point of bromine is -7.2°C and the boiling point is 58.8°C. it has a density of 3.11 grams per cubic centimeter.

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It is a very reactive element but less reactive than fluorine and chlorine and can even react with platinum and palladium. It is soluble in organic compounds such as alcohols and ethers.

Bromine in Biological Systems

Bromine is almost present in all living things. In animals, a bromine cofactor is required for the formation of collagen. Although in high doses, bromine is highly toxic and can cause severe irritation to the eyes, skin, nose, and respiratory system.

Uses of Bromine

Bromine has a wide range of uses in the industry especially to prepare organobromine compounds.

These are used in making insecticides, medicines, and other pharmaceuticals such as sedatives and anticonvulsants.

Silver bromide (AgBr), a chemical used in photography, now accounts for the largest use of bromine.

Other bromine substances are used in fumigants, flameproofing agents, and in some substances used to purify water.

Tyrian purple, an expensive purple color dye known from ancient civilizations, was produced from an organic bromine compound secreted from a sea mussel known as the murex.

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1,2-dibromoethane is used as an anti-knock agent to raise the octane number of gas and permit engines to run more smoothly. This application has actually declined as a result of environmental legislation.

When brominated compounds burn, hydrobromic acid is produced. The acid functions as a flame retardant by interfering with the oxidation reaction of combustion.

Calcium bromide (CaBr2), sodium bromide (NaBr), or zinc bromide (ZnBr2) are added to the wells to increase the performance of the drilling procedure.

Isotopes of Bromine

There are almost 29 known isotopes of bromine ranging from 69- Br to 79- Br. The naturally occurring two isotopes of bromine are Br- 79 with 50% abundance and Br- 81 with 49% abundance. Bromine isotopes have no known commercial use.