About Bromine

Bromine is part of the halogen group of the periodic table but is probably not as well-known as other elements in this group such as fluorine, used in toothpaste, chlorine, used in swimming pools and iodine, used in antiseptics.

Bromine’s chemical symbol is Br. It is a reddish-brown liquid and is never naturally found in its elemental form but rather in inorganic compounds, also known as bromides, and in natural organo-bromine compounds. These are found in soils, salts, air and seawater. The BBC World Service has broadcasted a special feature on bromine as part of its Business Daily series.

bromine

Bromine is essential for life.

Research undertaken by Vanderbilt University published in the journal Cell in 2014 has found that, out of the 92 naturally occurring elements, bromine is part of the 28 elements that are essential to human life. It enables tissue development in all animals including humans. “Without bromine, there are no animals.” said Billy Hudson, Ph.D., the paper’s senior author.

In the mid-1980s, curiosity about two rare kidney diseases led to the discovery of proteins that form the ‘collagen IV molecule‘. They are like necessary “cables supporting a bridge”. In 2009, researchers discovered a bond between sulphur and nitrogen atoms that act as a “fastener” to connect the collagen IV molecules which form scaffolds for cells. This bond is formed thanks to the enzyme peroxidasin. In this study, researchers showed the “unique and essential role of ionic bromide” to enable peroxidasin to form this bond. Consequently, the element bromine is “essential for animal development and tissue architecture.”

Where is it used?

Around 500,000 tons of bromine are estimated to be produced annually on a worldwide basis. The largest single use of bromine is in fire safety. Brominated flame retardants prevent burning and slow down materials’ ignition, making materials such as furniture and plastics less combustible. Since bromine was discovered, bromine compounds have also been used for water treatment, reduction of mercury emissions, oil drilling, crop protection, energy storage and generation, production of pharmaceuticals, catalyst for plastics (PTA) and rubber.

Where does it come from?

Today, bromine is extracted from salt lakes where the element is especially abundant, such as the Dead Sea bordering Jordan and Israel.

Bromine The element

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BROMINE

Watch this video to find out how bromine is being used in many key applications such as for the treatment of water, fire safety, the reduction of mercury emissions, energy storage and energy generation.

radio2 THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

The BBC World Service has broadcasted a special feature on bromine as part of its Business Daily series.

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