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IYPT Elements

IYPT 2019 Elements 018: Argon: Windows and lightbulbs

Best known for being everyone’s favourite chemistry pun (“all the good chemistry jokes argon”), argon is the next element in our International Year of the Periodic Table series. Though it’s an invisible gas, it pops up in a number of places in our everyday lives.

As a poor conductor of heat, argon commonly finds use in the gaps between panes in double-glazed windows. It reduces heat transfer, keeping your house warmer and lowering your energy bills as a result.

Like the other noble gases, argon is largely unreactive. Its inert nature means it found use in the old filament lightbulbs, where it prevented oxidation of the filament. Though filament bulbs have been largely phased out, argon is still used in the newer low-energy lightbulbs.

Another usage of argon that’s due to its inert properties is in the preservation of historical documents. They can be stored under an argon atmosphere to prevent degradation.

Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.