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acid on a solution of sodium carbonate. Borax may be perfectly purified by crystallisation. If a saturated and hot solution of borax be mixed with strong hydrochloric acid, common salt and a normal crystalline hydrate of boric acid are formed. The composition of this hydrate is B(HO)3, according to the form BX,—that is, of the composition B,03,3H,0. This is the easiest method of obtaining pure boric acid. The water is easily expelled from this hydrate ; it loses half at 100° and the remainder on further heating, and the remaining B,03 or boric anhydride fuses at 580° (according to Carnelley), forming at first a ductile (easily drawn out into threads), tenacious nass and then a colourless liquid solidifying to a transparent glass, which absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and then becomes cloudy. Only the liberation of ammonia (Bolley), absorbs carbonic anhydride like an alkali, dissolves iodine like an alkali (Georgiewics), and seems to be decomposed by water. Thus Rose showed that strong solutions of borax give a precipitate of silver borate with silver nitrate, whilst dilute solutions precipitate silver oxide, like an alkali. Georgiewics even supposes (1888) boric anhydride to be entirely void of acid properties; for all acids, on acting on a mixture of solutions of potassium iodide and iodate, evolve iodine, but boric acid does not do this. With dilute solutions of sodium hydroxide Berthelot obtained a development of heat equal to 11} thousand calories per equivalent of alkali (40 grams sodium hydroxide) when the ratio Na,0 : 2B,03 (as in borax) was taken, and only 4 thousand calories when the ratio was Na20: B,0s, whence he concludes that water powerfully decomposes those sodium borates in which there is more alkali than in borax. Laurent (1819) obtained a sodium compound, Na,0, 4B,03,10H.,0, containing twice as much boric anhydride as borax, by boiling a mixture of borax with an equivalent quantity of sal-ammoniac until the evolution of ammonia entirely ceased.

Hence it is evident that feeble acids are as prone to, and as easily, form acid salts (that is, salts containing much acid oxide) as feeble bases are to give basic salts. These relations become still clearer on an acquaintance with such feeble acids as silicic, molybdic, &c. This variety of the proportions in which bases are able to form salts recalls exactly the variety of the proportions in which water combines with crystallo-hydrates. But the want of sufficient data in the study of these relations does not yet permit of their being generalised under any common laws.

With respect to the feeble acid energy of boric anhydride I think it useful to add the following remarks. Carbonic anhydride is absorbed by a solution of borax, and displaces boric anhydride ; but it is also displaced by it, not only on fusion, but also on solution, as the preparation of borax itself shows. Sulphuric anhydride is absorbed by boric acid, forming a compound B(HSO4)3, where HSO4 is the radicle of sulphuric acid (D’Ally). With phosphoric acid, boric acid forms a stable compound, BPO,, or B.,O3P,Os, undecomposable by water, as Gustavson and others have shown. With respect to tartaric acid, boric anhydride is able to play the same part as antimonious oxide. Mannitol, glycerol, and similar polyhydric alcohols also seem able to form parti. culurly characteristic compounds with boric anhydride. All these aspects of the subject require still further explanation by a method of fresh and detailed research.

• Ditte determined the sp. gr. :


[blocks in formation]


B(OH); 1:5463


1.3828 Solubility 1.95


16.82 The last line gives the solubility, in grams, of boric acid, B(OH)3, per 100 c.c. of water, also according to the determinations of Ditte.

alkaline salts of boric acid are soluble in water, but all borates are soluble in acids, owing to their easy decomposability and the solubility of boric acid itself. Although boric anhydride, B,03, absorbs 34,0 from damp air, still in the presence of water it always? combines with a less quantity of bases (borax only contains &). However, fused boric anhydride forms a crystalline compound with magnesium of the same type as the hydrate (MGO)2B,0, (Ebelmann), and even with sodium it forms (Na,O),B,03 or Na.B0z (Benedict). As a rule, the salts of boric acid contain less base, although they are all able to form saline compounds with bases when fused. Generally, vitreous fluxes are formed by this means,s which when fused recall ordinary aqueous solutions in many respects. Some of them crystallise on solidifying, and then they have, like salts, a definite composition. The property of boric anhydride of forming higher grades of combination with basic oxides when fused explains the power of fused borax to dissolve metallic oxides, and the experiments of Ebelmann on the preparation of artificial crystals of the precious stones by means of boric anhydride. Boric anhydride is, although with difficulty, volatile at a high temperature, and therefore if it dissolves an oxide, it may be partially driven off from such a solution by prolonged and powerful ignition ; in which case the oxides previously in solution separate out in a crystalline form, and frequently in the same forms as those in which they occur in nature-for example, crystals of alumina, which by itself fuses with difficulty, have been obtained in this manner. It dissolves in molten boric anhydride, and separates out in natural rhombohedric crystals. In this way Ebelmann also obtained spinel--that is, a

7 It is evident that, in the presence of basic oxides, water competes with them, which fact in all probability determines both the amount of water in the salts of boric acid as well as their decomposition by an excess of water. In confirmation of the abovementioned competing action between water and bases, I think it useful to point out that the crystallo-hydrate of borax containing 5H.,O may be represented as B(HO), or rather as B,(OH), with the substitution of one atom of hydrogen by sodium, since Na,B,07,5H,O=2B.,(OH)3(ONа). The composition of the acid boric salts is very varied, as is seen from the fact that Reychler (1893) obtained (Cs.,Oj3B.,0,, (Rb2O)2B,0, (corresponding to borax) and (LiO)B,,03, and that Le Chatelier and Ditte obtained, for CaO, MgO, &C., (RO)B,03, (RO),31,03, (RO)2B,03, (RO).B.,03, and even (RO);B03.

* A glass can only be formed by those slightly volatile oxides which correspond with feeble acids, like silica, phosphoric and boric anhydrides, &c., which themselves give glassy masses, like quartz, glacial phosphoric acid, and boric anhydride. They are able, like aqueous solutions and like metallic alloys, to solidify either in an amorphous form or to yield (or even be wholly converted into) definite crystalline compounds. This view illustrates the position of solutions amongst the other chemical compounds, and allows all alloys to be regarded from the aspect of the common laws of chemical reactions. I have therefore frequently recurred to it in this work, and have since the year 1850 introduced it into various provinces of chemistry,


compound of magnesium and aluminium oxides which occurs in nature.9

Free boron was obtained (1809) by Davy, Gay-Lussac, and Thénard when they obtained the metals of the alkalis, for boric anhydride when fused with sodium gives up its oxygen to the sodium, and free boron is liberated as an amorphous powder like charcoal. It is of a brown colour, specific gravity 2:45 (Moissan), and when dry does not alter in the air at the ordinary temperature ; but it burns when ignited to 700°, and in so doing combines not only with the oxygen of the air, but also with the nitrogen. However, the combustion is never complete, because the boric anhydride formed on the surface covers the remaining mass of the boron, and so preserves it from the action of the oxygen. Acids, even sulphuric (forming $0.,) and phosphoric (forming phosphorus), easily oxidise amorphous boron, especially when

9 If boric acid in its aqueous solutions proves to be exceedingly feeble, unenergetic, and easily displaced from its salts by other acids, yet in an anhydrous state, as anhydride, it exhibits the properties of an energetic acid oxide, and it displaces the anhydrides of other acids. This of course does not mean that the acid then acquires new chemical properties, but only depends on the fact that the anhydrides of the majority of acids are much more volatile than boric anhydride, and therefore the salts of many acids-eren of sulphuric acid-are decomposed when fused with boric anhydride.

By itself boric acid is used in the arts in small quantity, chiefly for the preservation of meat and fish (which must be afterwards well washed in water) and of milk, and for soaking the wicks of stearin candles; the latter application is based on the fact that the wicks, which are made of cotton twist, contain an ash which is infusible by itself but which fuses when mixed with boric acid.

10 Amorphous boron is prepared by mixing 100 parts of powdered boric anhydride with 50 parts of sodium in small lumps; this mixture is thrown into a powerfully heated cast-iron crucible, covered with a layer of ignited salt, and the crucible covered, Reaction proceeds rapidly; the mass is stirred with an iron rod, and poured directly into water containing hydrochloric acid. The action is naturally accompanied by the formation of sodium borate, which is dissolved, together with the salt, by the water, whilst the boron settles at the bottom of the vessel as an insoluble powder. It is washed in water, and dried at the ordinary temperature. Magnesium, and even charcoal and phosphorus, are also able to reduce boron from its oxide. Boron, in the form of an amorphous powder, very easily passes through filter-paper, remains suspended in water, and colours it brown, so that it appears to be soluble in water. Sulphur precipitated from solutions shows the same (colloidal) property. When borax is fused with magnesium powder, it gives a brown powder of a compound of boron and magnesium, Mg B (Winkler, 1890), but when a mixture of 1 part of magnesium and 3 parts of B.,0, is hented to redness (Moissan, 1892), it forms amorphous boron in the form of a chestnut-coloured powder, which, after being washed with water, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, is fused again with B.,Oz in an atmosphere of hydrogen in order to prevent the access of the nitrogen of the air, which is easily absorbed by incandescent amorphous boron.

Sabatier (1891) considers that a certain amount of gaseous hydride of boron is evolved in the action of hydrochloric acid upon the alloys of magnesium and boron, because the gas disengaged burns with a green tlume. Still, the existence of hydride of boron cannot de regarded as certain.

Under the action of the heat of the electric furnace boron forms with carbon a carbide, BC, as Miihlhäuser and Moissan showed in 1893.

heated, converting it into boric acid. Alkalis have the same action on it, only in this case hydrogen is evolved. Boron decomposes steam at a red heat, also with evolution of hydrogen.

Amorphous boron, like charcoal, dissolves in certain molten metals. The property of fused aluminium of dissolving boron in considerable quantity is very striking ; on cooling such a solution, the boron partially combined with the aluminium separates out in a crystalline form, and its properties are then exceedingly remarkable. The crystalline boron may be obtained by heating (to 1,300°) the pulverulent boron with aluminium in a well-closed crucible, the access of air being prevented as far as possible. After cooling, crystals are observed on the surface of the aluminium, and may easily be separated by dissolving the latter in hydrochloric acid, which does not act on the crystals. The specific gravity of the crystals is 2.68 ; they are partially transparent, but are for the most part coloured dark brown ; they contain about 4 p.e. of carbon and up to 7 p.c. of aluminium, so that they cannot be considered as pure boron. Nevertheless, the properties of this crystalline substance, which was obtained by Wöhler and Deville, are very remarkable. It most closely resembles the diamond in its propertiesin fact, these crystals have the lustre and high refracting power proper to the diamond only, whilst their hardness competes with that of the diamond. Their powder polishes even the diamond, and like the diamond scratches the sapphire and corundum. Crystalline boron is much more stable with respect to chemical reagents than the amorphous variety, and as it resembles the diamond, so amorphous boron, on the other hand, distinctly recalls certain of the properties of charcoal ; thus a certain resemblance exists between boron and carbon in a free state, which is further justified by the proximity of their positions in the periodic system.

Among the other compounds of boron, those with nitrogen and the halogens are the most remarkable. As already mentioned above, amorphous boron combines directly with nitrogen at a red heat. If it be heated in a glass tube in a stream of nitric oxide, perfect combustion takes place, 5B+3N0=B,0; +3BN. If the residue be treated with nitric acid, the boric anhydride dissolves, whilst the boron nitride remains " as an extremely light white powder, which

11 At first boron nitride was obtained by heating boric acid with potassium cyanide or other cyanogen compounds. It may be more simply prepared by heating anhydrous borax with potassium ferrocyanide, or by heating borax, with ammonium chloride. For this purpose one part of borax is intimately mixed with two parts of dry ammonium chloride, and the mixture heated in a platinum crucible. A porous mass is formed, which after crushing and treating with water and hydrochloric acid, leaves boron nitride. Boron fluoride, BF, is known, corresponding to BN; this body was obtained by Besson and 12 When fused with potassium carbonate it forms potassium cyanate, BN + ,00 =KBO, + KCNO. All this shows that boron nitride is a nitrile of boric acid, BO(OH) + NH-2H,O=BN. The same is expressed by saying that boron nitride is a compound of the type of the boron compounds BX3, with the substitution of Xz by nitrogen, as the trivalent radicle of ammonia, NH3

is sometimes partially crystalline and greasy to the touch, like tale. It is infusible and unchanged, even at the melting-point of nickel. In general, it is remarkable for its great stability with respect to chemical reagents. Nitric and hydrochloric acids, as well as alkaline solutions, and hydrogen and chlorine at a red heat, have no action on it. When fused with potash, it evolves ammonia, and when ignited in steam it also yields ammonia : 2BN+3H,0=B,03 + 2NH3.12

No less remarkable is the compound of boron with fluorine-boron fluoride, BF3. It is produced in many instances when compounds of boron and of fluorine are brought together.13 The most convenient method of preparing it is by heating a mixture of calcium fluoride with boric anhydride and sulphuric acid, 3CaF,+B,03 +3H. SO, = 3CaSO4 +3H,0+2BF3.14 It is a colourless liquefiable gas (the liquid boils at — 100°), which on coming into contact with damp air forms white fumes, owing to its combining with water. One volume of water dissolves as much as 1,050 volumes of this gas (Bazaroff), forming a liquid which disengages boron fluoride when heated, and distils over unaltered. Boron fluoride chars organic matter, owing to its taking up the water from it, and in this respect it acts like sulphuric acid. The behaviour of boron fluoride with water must be understood as a reversible reaction, since with water it yields hydrofluoric and boric acids, whilst they, acting on one another, re-form boron fluoride and water. A state of equilibrium is set up between these four substances (and between two reversible reactions) which is distinctly dependent on the mass of the water. 14bis When boron fluoride is in great excess, the equilibrated system, which is capable of distilling over (sp. gr. Moissan (1891). The action of phosphorus upon iodide of boron, B13, forms PBL), and when heated to 500° in hydrogen it forms BP, which gives PH; with fused KHO.

13 Boron fluoride is frequently evolved on heating certain compounds occurring in nature containing both boron and fluorine. If calcium fluoride is heated with boric anhydride, calcium borate and boron fluoride are formed, and the latter, as a gas, is volatilised : 2B,03 +3CaF,= 2BF3+ CazB.06. The calcium borate, however, retains a certain amount of calcium fluoride.

14 In order to avoid the formation of silicon fluoride the decomposition should not be carried on in glass vessels, which contain silica, but in lead or platinum vessels, Boron fluoride by itself does not corrode glass, but the hydrofluoric acid liberated in the reaction may bring a part of the silica into reaction. Boron fluoride should be collected over mercury, as water acts on it, as we shall see afterwards.

14 bis It appears to me that from this point of view it is possible to understand the apparently contradictory results of different investigators, especially those of Gay-Lussac (and Thénard), Davy, Berzelius, and Bazaroff. In the form in which the reaction of BF; on water is given here, it is evident that the act of solution in water is accompanied by

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