Elements

Elements

A close look at chemical elements, the basic building blocks of the universe. Where do we get them, what do we use them for and how do they fit into the economy?

  • Updated:
    Weekly
  • Episodes available:
    Indefinitely help

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Recent episodes (10)

  • Carbon, chemical symbol C, its role in plastics 7 May 2014

    Fri, 25 Jul 14

    Duration:
    35 mins

    Polymers – or plastics – are enduring, useful, can be moulded into anything and are cheap to produce. They derive from petrochemicals and last forever. What can be done to deal with the environmental impact of them?

    Download 17MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Sodium, chemical symbol Na, 30 Apr 2014

    Thu, 24 Jul 14

    Duration:
    34 mins

    Used in the manufacture of foods, paper, soap, surfactants, glass and textiles, Sodium is one of the most abundant elements on the planet. What makes salt such a controversial addition to food? And what is it about soap that gives it cleansing properties?

    Download 16MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Chlorine, chemical symbol Cl, 14 Apr 2014

    Wed, 23 Jul 14

    Duration:
    34 mins

    Where does this toxic, green gas come from and what products does it help create? Why is it so devastating as a chemical weapon? Used in disinfectants and PVC, and in the manufacture of nylon and polyurethane, paint and electronics, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, it is reactive, versatile, and powerful.

    Download 16MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Lithium, chemical symbol Li, 9 Apr 2014

    Tue, 22 Jul 14

    Duration:
    33 mins

    A look at lithium batteries, lithium grease and the medicine lithium carbonate, used to treat bi-polar disorder. Lithium is the lightest solid – the lightest metal - in the periodic table of the elements. It is also used in heat-resistant glass, in lubricants and in rechargeable batteries in mobile phones, laptops and electric cars.

    Download 16MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Rare Earths, chemical symbols Nd, Sm, Tb, Dy, Y 19 Mar 2014

    Mon, 21 Jul 14

    Duration:
    33 mins

    There are 15 rare earth elements. They're not all rare and they're not earths. Several are important in the manufacture of technology, gadgets and the magnets in wind turbines – neodymium, samarium, terbium, dysprosium, and yttrium.

    Download 15MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Carbon, Diamonds, chemical symbol C, 5 Mar 2014

    Sun, 20 Jul 14

    Duration:
    32 mins

    Used as abrasives, in drilling, in lasers – and diamonds look pretty too, technological advances mean the gemstone market could be poised for a flood of man-made diamonds. How is it done? And how does the diamond market operate?

    Download 15MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Calcium, chemical symbol Ca, 27 Feb 2014

    Sat, 19 Jul 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Calcium is a key ingredient in cement and concrete, it can truly be described as a building block of an element. In nature, where does the calcium that makes sea creatures' shells come from? And how is it possible to 'grow' bones in a laboratory?

    Download 13MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Tin, chemical symbol Sn, 29 Jan 2014

    Fri, 18 Jul 14

    Duration:
    32 mins

    Tin smelted with copper to make bronze, became Man's first alloy metal 5000 years ago. It's now used in the electronics industry, in fungicides and insecticides, and in the production of PVC and glass. However, it is not now used in the production of 'tin' cans.

    Download 15MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Carbon, chemical element C, its role in materials 22 Jan 2014

    Thu, 17 Jul 14

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Carbon-based materials such as graphite, graphene and carbon fibre are making carbon the go-to element for new products and applications in the aeronautics and energy industries.

    Download 13MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Carbon, chemical element C, its role in energy, 15 Jan 2014

    Wed, 16 Jul 14

    Duration:
    26 mins

    Carbon is a great energy store – in plants and animals, but also as hydrocarbons – coal, oil and natural gas. From the Industrial Revolution onwards, burning these fossilized fuels has released vast quantities of Carbon Dioxide into the air, affecting our climate and oceans. Can we ever conduct business without carbon fuels?

    Download 12MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

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