Metal Activity Series

A report on the metal activity series (Chemistry).

Now using this activity series it is simple to determine if certain metals will reacts with other metals. For example, if Copper was mixed with a Magnesium Sulfate solution there would be no reaction because the Copper is lower than the Calcium. Likewise if Lead was mixed with Zinc Sulfate then there would be no reaction. Now a few examples that would involve a reaction could include Iron in Silver Nitrate Solution and Calcium in a Silver Nitrate solution.

                The activity series is constantly used in our daily lives but we rarely notice such things. For example a simple penny always seems to turn darker over the years whereas a quarter remains shiny for several years. This is a simple explanation using the metal activity series. The shell of a penny is made of copper and because it is so low on the activity series it rarely reacts with common liquids that it interacts with like water, etc. The dirt on a penny is not to be mistaken with a color change because it accumulates dirt, rather than an instant color change it is gradual. But what would happen if it did react?  Before 1982 there was much speculation about pennies and their zinc core. Many people believed that if mixed with something like hydrochloric acid a reaction could occur. This is untrue because the copper shell would have to be removed or destroyed somehow before the zinc would be able to react and displace the hydrogen from the acid. Copper is so low on the metal activity series that it does not displace hydrogen from any substance therefore no reaction would occur.

                Yet another thing that the metal activity series affects is how we find certain metals in nature. For example elements like Copper, Gold and Silver are found as pure elements in nature whereas things like Sodium, Lithium and Potassium are never found as a pure element. This is simply because an element like Silver is much lower on the metal activity series and therefore it cannot displace many other elements unless it is placed inside a solution with gold ions which rarely occurs in nature. On the other hand a metal like Potassium is very high on the metal activity series therefore it is very reactive. This characteristic that it possesses makes it impossible to find as a pure substance because it will very easily react with water which is in abundance in nature. The several applications that are used in our everyday lives provided by the metal activity series can also be applied to something like halogens and this series can be created in the same way. A few simple tests of trial and error will determine this. A halogen activity series would be very useful in certain products that utilise these halogens.

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