Cerium is a reactive grey metal and is one of the most abundant of the lanthanide group of metals. It oxidises in air, ignites when heated and reacts rapidly in water. It must be stored in an air free enviroment. Cerium can be used as an alloying element with iron and other constituents to produce a flint material used in automatic ignition devices, and the addition of cerium to some metal alloys greatly improves their heat resistance. Cerium can also be used in vacuum apparatus as a "getter" for noble gases.


Cerium was discovered in 1803 by J.J. Berzelius and W. Hisinger at Vestmanland, Sweden. However, it was first isolated by W.F. Hillebrand and T.H. Norton in 1875 in Washington DC, USA.

68 ppm within the Earth’s crust

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Atomic number 58 Clip
Atomic / Molecular Weight 140.12 gmol-1Clip
Density 6711 kgm-3Clip
Lattice constant 516 fmClip
Melting Point 1073 KClip
Boiling Point 3273 KClip
Specific heat capacity 184 Jkg-1K-1Clip
Thermal conductivity 11 Wm-1K-1Clip
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See also: Berzelius, Jons Jakobs, Cerium III Chloride, Cerium III Oxide, Cerium IV Sulphate, Periodic Table.

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Subjects: Chemistry