AskDefine | Define bromine

Dictionary Definition

bromine n : a nonmetallic largely pentavalent heavy volatile corrosive dark brown liquid element belonging to the halogens; found in sea water [syn: Br, atomic number 35]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a nonmetallic chemical element (symbol Br) with an atomic number of 35; one of the halogens



nonmetallic chemical element

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For etymology and more information refer to: (A lot of the translations were taken from that site with permission from the author)

Extensive Definition

Bromine (, , meaning "stench (of he-goats)" ), is a chemical element with the symbol Br and atomic number 35. A halogen element, bromine is a red volatile liquid at standard room temperature that is intermediate in reactivity between chlorine and iodine. Bromine vapours are corrosive and toxic. Approximately 730,000,000 kg was produced in 1993. The main applications for bromine are in fire retardants and fine chemicals.


Bromine was discovered independently by two chemists Antoine Balard and Carl Jacob Löwig in 1825 and 1826.
Balard found bromide salts in the ash of sea weed from the salt marshes of Montpellier in 1826. The seaweed was used to produce iodine, but also contained bromine.
Carl Jacob Löwig working at the laboratory of Leopold Gmelin produced elemental bromine by reacting mineral salts, which contained bromides, with chlorine gas. The publication of the results was delayed and Balard published his results first.
Bromine was not produced in quantity until 1860. The French chemist and physicist Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac suggested the name bromine due to the characteristic smell of the vapors. Some also suggest that it may have been discovered by Bernard Courtois, the man who discovered iodine.
Potassium bromide and sodium bromide were used as anticonvulsants and sedatives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, until it was gradually superseded by chloral hydrate and then the barbiturates.


Bromine has 2 stable isotopes: Br-79 (50.69%) and Br-81 (49.31%). At least another 23 isotopes are known to exist. Many of the bromine isotopes are fission products. Several of the heavier bromine isotopes from fission are delayed neutron emitters. All of the radioactive bromine isotopes are relatively short lived. The longest half life is the neutron deficient Br-77 at 2.376 days. The longest half life on the neutron rich side is Br-82 at 1.471 days. A number of the bromine isotopes exhibit metastable isomers. Stable Br-79 exhibits a radioactive isomer, with a half life of 4.86 seconds. It decays by isomeric transition to the stable ground state.

Notable characteristics

Bromine is the only liquid nonmetallic element at room temperature and one of only six elements on the periodic table that are liquid at or close to room temperature. The pure chemical element has the physical form of a diatomic molecule, Br2. It is a dense, mobile, reddish-brown liquid, that evaporates easily at standard temperature and pressures to give a red vapor (its color resembles nitrogen dioxide) that has a strong disagreeable odor resembling that of chlorine. Bromine is a halogen, and is less reactive than chlorine and more reactive than iodine. Bromine is slightly soluble in water, and highly soluble in carbon disulfide, aliphatic alcohols (such as methanol), and acetic acid. It bonds easily with many elements and has a strong bleaching action. Bromine, like chlorine, is also used in pool maintenance.
Certain bromine-related compounds have been evaluated to have an ozone depletion potential or bioaccumulate in living organisms. As a result many industrial bromine compounds are no longer manufactured, are being restricted, or scheduled for phasing out.
Bromine is a powerful oxidizing agent. It reacts vigorously with metals, especially in the presence of water, as well as most organic compounds, especially upon illumination.
Bromine has no known role in human health. Organobromine compounds do occur naturally, a famous example being Tyrian purple. Most organobromine compounds in nature arise via the action of vanadium bromoperoxidase.

Occurrence and production

See also Halide minerals.
The diatomic element Br2 does not occur naturally. Instead, bromine exists exclusively as bromide salts in diffuse amounts in crustal rock. Due to leaching, bromide salts have accumulated in sea water (85 ppm), but at a lower concentration than chloride. Bromine may be economically recovered from bromide-rich brine wells and from the Dead Sea waters (up to 50000 ppm).
Approximately 500,000 metric tons (worth around US$350 million) of bromine are produced per year (2001) worldwide with the United States and Israel being the primary producers. Bromine production has increased sixfold since the 1960s. The largest bromine reserve in the United States is located in Columbia and Union County, Arkansas, U.S. Israel's bromine reserves are contained in the waters of the Dead Sea. The bromide-rich brines are treated with chlorine gas, flushing through with air. In this treatment, bromide anions are oxidized to bromine by the chlorine gas.
2 Br− + Cl2 → 2 Cl− + Br2
Because of its commercial availability and long shelf-life, bromine is not typically prepared. Small amounts of bromine can however be generated through the reaction of solid sodium bromide with concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4). The first stage is formation of hydrogen bromide (HBr), which is a gas, but under the reaction conditions some of the HBr is oxidized further by the sulfuric acid to form bromine (Br2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).
NaBr (s) + H2SO4 (aq) → HBr (aq) + NaHSO4 (aq)
2 HBr (aq) + H2SO4 (aq) → Br2 (g) + SO2 (g) + 2 H2O (l)
Similar alternatives, such as the use of dilute hydrochloric acid with sodium hypochlorite, are also available. The most important thing is that the anion of the acid (in the above examples, sulfate and chloride, respectively) be more electronegative than bromine, allowing the substitution reaction to occur.


Organic chemistry

Organic compounds are brominated by either addition or substitution reactions. Bromine undergoes electrophilic addition to the double-bonds of alkenes, via a cyclic bromonium intermediate. In non-aqueous solvents such as carbon disulfide, this affords the di-bromo product. For example, reaction with ethylene will produce 1,2-dibromoethane. Bromine also undergoes electrophilic addition to phenols and anilines. When used as bromine water, the corresponding bromohydrin is formed instead. So reliable is the reactivity of bromine that bromine water is employed as a reagent to test for the presence alkenes, phenols, and anilines. Like the other halogens, bromine participates in free radical reactions. For example hydrocarbons are brominated upon treatment with bromine in the presence of light.
Bromine, sometimes with a catalytic amount of phosphorus, easily brominates carboxylic acids at the α-position. This method, the Hell-Volhard-Zelinsky reaction, is the basis of the commercial route to bromoacetic acid.
N-Bromosuccinimide is commonly used as a substitute for elemental bromine, being easier to handle, and reacting more mildly and thus more selectively.
Organic bromides are often preferable relative to the less reactive chlorides and more expensive iodide-containing reagents. Thus, Grignard and organolithium compound are most often generated from the corresponding bromides.

Inorganic chemistry

Bromine is an oxidizer, and it will oxidize iodide ions to iodine, being itself reduced to bromide:
Br2 + 2 I− → 2 Br− + I2
Bromine will also oxidize metals and metaloids to the corresponding bromides. Anhydrous bromine is less reactive toward many metals than hydrated bromine, however. Dry bromine reacts vigorously with aluminium, titanium, mercury as well as alkaline earths and alkali metals.


A wide variety of organobromine compounds are used in industry. Some are prepared from bromine and others are prepared from hydrogen bromide, which is obtained by burning hydrogen in bromine. is the preparation of 1,2-Dibromoethane, the organobromine compound produced in the largest amounts:
C2H4 + Br2 → CH2BrCH2Br
Ethylene bromide is an additive in gasolines containing lead anti-engine knocking agents. It scavenges lead by forming volatile lead bromide, which is exhausted from the engine. This application has declined since the 1970s due to environmental regulations. Ethylene bromide is also used as a fumigant, but again this application is declining.
Brominated flame retardants represent a commodity of growing importance. Specific compound used produced for this purpose include tetrabromobisphenol A, decabromodiphenyl ether, and vinyl bromide.
The bromides of calcium, sodium, and zinc account for a sizable part of the bromine market. These salts form dense solutions in water that are used as drilling fluids.
Miscellaneous uses:


Elemental bromine is toxic and causes burns. As an oxidizing agent, it is incompatible with most organic and inorganic compounds. Care needs to taken when transporting bromine, it is commonly carried in steel tanks lined with lead, supported by strong metal frames.
When certain ionic compounds containing Bromine are mixed with Potassium permanganate (KMnO4), they will form a pale brown cloud of Bromine gas. This gas smells like bleach and is very irritating to the mucus membranes. This form of Bromine will appear to diffuse slowly, but it will suddenly disappear. Upon exposure, one should move to fresh air immediately. If symptoms arise, medical attention is needed.


bromine in Afrikaans: Broom
bromine in Arabic: بروم
bromine in Bengali: ব্রোমিন
bromine in Belarusian: Бром
bromine in Bosnian: Brom
bromine in Bulgarian: Бром
bromine in Catalan: Brom
bromine in Chuvash: Бром
bromine in Czech: Brom
bromine in Corsican: Bromu
bromine in Welsh: Bromin
bromine in Danish: Brom
bromine in German: Brom
bromine in Estonian: Broom
bromine in Modern Greek (1453-): Βρώμιο
bromine in Spanish: Bromo
bromine in Esperanto: Bromo
bromine in Basque: Bromo
bromine in Persian: برم
bromine in French: Brome
bromine in Friulian: Brom
bromine in Irish: Bróimín
bromine in Manx: Bromeen
bromine in Galician: Bromo
bromine in Korean: 브로민
bromine in Armenian: Բրոմ
bromine in Hindi: ब्रोमिन
bromine in Croatian: Brom
bromine in Ido: Bromo
bromine in Indonesian: Brom
bromine in Icelandic: Bróm
bromine in Italian: Bromo
bromine in Hebrew: ברום
bromine in Javanese: Brom
bromine in Swahili (macrolanguage): Bromi
bromine in Haitian: Bwòm
bromine in Latin: Bromum
bromine in Latvian: Broms
bromine in Luxembourgish: Brom
bromine in Lithuanian: Bromas
bromine in Lojban: xunkliru
bromine in Hungarian: Bróm
bromine in Macedonian: Бром
bromine in Maori: Pūkane
bromine in Marathi: ब्रोमिन
bromine in Dutch: Broom
bromine in Japanese: 臭素
bromine in Norwegian: Brom
bromine in Norwegian Nynorsk: Brom
bromine in Occitan (post 1500): Bròme
bromine in Uzbek: Brom
bromine in Polish: Brom
bromine in Portuguese: Bromo
bromine in Romanian: Brom
bromine in Quechua: Bromu
bromine in Russian: Бром
bromine in Simple English: Bromine
bromine in Slovak: Bróm
bromine in Slovenian: Brom
bromine in Serbian: Бром
bromine in Serbo-Croatian: Brom
bromine in Saterfriesisch: Bromium
bromine in Finnish: Bromi
bromine in Swedish: Brom
bromine in Tamil: புரோமின்
bromine in Thai: โบรมีน
bromine in Vietnamese: Brôm
bromine in Tajik: Бром
bromine in Turkish: Brom
bromine in Ukrainian: Бром
bromine in Contenese: 溴
bromine in Chinese: 溴
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