The Magic Element Manganese

Introduction to Manganese

The element manganese is a silvery-brittle metal that is often found in minerals. Manganese is most often known for its use in industrial alloys.

10 Fun Facts about Manganese

  • The Romans and Egyptians used manganese to add/decrease color during glassmaking.
  • It was rumored that the Spartans blades were harder than their competitors because they were made of a mixture between iron and manganese.
  • Manganese is a hard but brittle metal that is easy to oxidize.
  • A purple amethyst gets its color from the element magnesium.
  • 80%-90% of the world’s manganese that is produced is used in steel and ironmaking.
  • Manganese plays many roles in our bodies including roles relating to our metabolism, mitochondiral functions, immune system, bone formation and macronutrients.
  • Manganese was used as Manganese Oxide (MnO2) during the Stone Age as a brown pigment.
  • Manganese is most similar to the element iron on a chemical standpoint.
  • Manganese is found in the Earth’s outer crust layer.
  • Manganese is the 12th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

Manganese in the Periodic Table

Manganese has the atomic symbol Mn with an atomic number of 25. It is located in the d-block of the periodic table, with chromium to its left and iron to its right. Manganese is the fifth element in the transition metals of the periodic table. Manganese has an electron configuration of [Ar]4s23d5. Additionally, the element has an electronegativity of 1.55 on the Pauling scale. 

Manganese in Today’s World

Manganese has had a wide range of uses due to its ability to form various compounds and ores. It’s been used in pigmenting things as well as iron and steelmaking. It also has many uses in the human body.

Manganese in Art

Since the Stone Age, people have been using manganese in the form of manganese oxide as a brown pigment. The use of manganese in creating art continued throughout history with the Romans and Egyptians using it to add color to glass for mosaics. Manganese oxides are still used in the creation of pigments today as well as in mortar as a colorant. Manganese is also added into glazes and varnishes in order to combat any iron impurities in a product. Below is an example of a ceramic tile where manganese oxide was used as the brown pigment that outlines the picture.

Manganese used in pigments.

Manganese in Industry

Manganese is used in various aspects of industry including textiles, transportation, construction and machinery. In the fun facts about manganese, we learned that 80%-90% of manganese is used in steel and ironmaking. The manganese is used in the form of alloys, specifically those of ferromanganese and silicomanganese to produce steel.

Manganese is also used in the production of batteries. Its ability to be oxidized relatively easy, makes it a great option for a cathode in batteries for phones, laptops, tablets, and even electric cars.

Manganese dioxide battery figure

Manganese in the Body

Manganese is present in the body in low concentrations. However, it’s important keep the concentration stable because too little or too much is deadly. Manganese is present in the pancreas, kidneys, and liver and is important for the formation of your bones and connective tissue, blood clotting, and blood sugar regulation, mitochondrial functioning, and hormone regulation among other things. A lack of manganese in the body can cause infertility, bone weakness and malformation as well as seizures. However, an intake of too much manganese or the inhalation of certain compounds of manganese can cause neurological issues that display symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s.

Where is the Manganese Element Found?

Manganese is found in the Earth’s outer layer crust and is commonly mined in the form of an oxide. The common areas for mining these oxides are China, Africa, Australia, and Gabon. Once mined, the oxide can be reduced using either sodium, magnesium, aluminum or if found in the form of manganese sulfate, it can be reduced through electrolysis.

When and How was Manganese Discovered?

In 1774 a Swedish chemist and pharmacist, Carl-Wilhelm Scheele discovered pyrolusite (MnO2). Later that same year, another Swedish Chemist by the name of Johan Gottlieb Gahn made the first isolation of manganese by heating pyrolusite in the presence of charcoal. The most common way that manganese is gathered is still in the form of pyrolusite.

Manganese Chemistry – Compounds, Reactions, Isotopes, Oxidation States

Manganese Compounds and Reactions

  • Salts: MnO42-, MnO4, MnSO4, KMnO4, Mn(NO3)2, C4H6MnO4, MnCO3
  • Oxides: MnO, MnO2 , MnO4, Mn2O3 , Mn2O7
  • Halides: MnCl2, MnF3

Isolation of Elemental Manganese

Since manganese has a wide variety of compounds it is available in, there are multiple ways to isolate manganese. If you’re starting with an oxide, you can use carbon monoxide to reduce the compound down to MnO where you can then burn it in the presence of charcoal (carbon) to get elemental manganese. If you are starting with an ore, they can be burnt until a MnO calcine is formed. This is then dissolved in sulfuric acid and forms a manganous sulfate solution. Adding ammonia and hydrogen sulfide to this solution causes the majority of the metals present (lead, arsenic, copper, zinc, iron, aluminum, cobalt and molybdenum) to precipitate out.

This purified solution is then placed into the cathode part (reduction side) of an electrolytic cell, Once the electric current is passed through, manganese will begin to deposit onto the cathode. For salts you can also use an electrolytic cell to obtain elemental manganese.

Manganese Isotopes

Manganese has only one stable isotope that has an abundance in the natural world, 55Mn

  • Natural Abundance: 100%
  • Radioactive Half-Life: Stable
  • Decay Chain: Across Period 4 elements

Oxidation States of Manganese

  • Mn(II): MnCl2, MnCO3, MnO
  • Mn(III): MnF3, Mn2O3,
  • Mn(IV): MnO2 ,
  • Mn(V): K3MnO4
  • Mn(VI): K2MnO4
  • Mn(VII): KMnO4, Mn2O7

Properties of Manganese Element

  • Atomic Symbol: Mn
  • Melting point: 2548K, 1246°C, 2275°F
  • Boiling point: 2334K; 2061C; 3742°F
  • Density: 7.21 g/ml
  • Atomic weight: 54.94
  • Atomic number: 25
  • Electronegativity: 1.55
  • Molar heat capacity: 26.32 J/(mol*K)
  • Classification: Transition Metal
  • Natural abundance in the Earth’s crust: 950 ppm
  • Electron shell configuration: [Ar]4s23d5
  • Stable Isotopes: 55
  • Found naturally in the minerals: pyrolusite, romanechite, bixbyite, manganite, rhodochrosite, rhodonite
  • Toxicity: High doses is toxic (more than 11g/day)

Where Can I Buy The Manganese Element?

Most general stores and sites offer various oxides of manganese, especially those used in pigments and industrial alloys.

Enjoyed reading about manganese? Check out other elements on our INTERACTIVE PERIODIC TABLE!