Chemical elements
  Cerium
    Isotopes
    Energy
    Production
    Application
    Physical Properties
    Chemical Properties
      Cerous hydride
      Cerous fluoride
      Cerous chloride
      Cerous oxychloride
      Cerous bromide
      Cerous iodide
      Cerous perchlorate
      Cerous bromate
      Cerous iodate
      Cerous oxide
      Cerous sesquioxide
      Cerous hydroxide
      Cerous sulphide
      Cerous persulphide
      Cerous oxysulphide
      Cerous sulphite
      Cerous sulphate
      Cerous dithionate
      Cerous selenite
      Cerous selenate
      Cerous chromate
      Cerous molybdate
      Cerous tungstate
      Cerous nitride
      Cerous nitrite
      Cerous nitrate
      Cerous hypophosphite
      Cerous orthophosphate
      Cerous vanadate
      Cerous carbide
      Cerous silicide
      Cerous carbonate
      Cerous thiocyanate
      Cerous platinocyanide
      Cerous oxalate
      Cerous silicate
      Ceric fluoride
      Ceric chloride
      Ceric iodate
      Ceroceric oxide
      Ceroceric hydroxide
      Ceric oxide
      Cerium dioxide
      Ceria
      Ceric hydroxide
      Perceric hydroxide
      Ceric hydrosulphate
      Ceric sulphate
      Ceric selenite
      Ceric chromate
      Ceric molybdate
      Ceric nitrate
      Ceric ammonium nitrate
      Ceric orthophosphate
      Ceric dihydrogen arsenate
      Ceric carbonate
      Perceric carbonate
      Ceric acetate
      Ceric oxalate
      Ceric acetylacetonate
      Ceric borate
    PDB 1ak8-1n65

Ceric oxide, CeO2






Ceric oxide, cerium dioxide, or ceria, CeO2, may be prepared by the ignition of cerous or ceric hydroxide, nitrate, sulphate, etc., or by the ignition of the cerous salt of any volatile oxyacid; it is perhaps most commonly prepared by the ignition of cerous oxalate.

Ceria is an amorphous powder of specific gravity 6.405 at 17° when prepared from the oxalate, and 6.99 when obtained from the nitrate (Sterba); its specific heat is 0.0877 (0°-100°). There has been a great deal of discussion over the question of the colour of ceria. It might be anticipated that ceria, like zirconia and thoria, would be white. Most experimenters agree that pure ceria has a pale yellow colour. The depth of colour depends upon the temperature at which the oxide has been calcined and the salt from which it has been prepared. When prepared by the prolonged ignition of cerous sulphate at a white heat, its tint is so slight that it may almost be said that the ceria is white, but when obtained at a lower temperature by the ignition of cerous oxalate or ceric ammonium nitrate it has a more pronounced tint, usually described as that of pale chamois. On the other hand, Spencer claims that when ceric sulphate is heated for a prolonged period at temperatures below a red heat, cerium dioxide is formed, which is pure white; further, that when the ceria is heated above a red heat it shrinks in volume and becomes pale yellow in colour. Ceria darkens in colour very markedly when heated, but returns (practically) to its original colour when cooled. When ceria is contaminated with a little of the other earths of the cerium group, it is salmon-coloured, reddish-brown, or brown, according to the extent of contamination and the temperatnre of ignition. The coloration is attributed mainly to the presence of praseodymia, or rather, its peroxide.

Ceria is readily obtained in the crystalline form by adding anhydrous cerous sulphate to molten magnesium chloride, allowing to cool slowly, and extracting the mass with hydrochloric acid. The crystals belong to the regular system and exhibit faces of the cube and octahedron. They are practically colourless, very hard and very brilliant, the refractive index being high (about 1.9); they have a density of 7.3. If small quantities of another rare earth sulphate are added in the preparation, e.g. neodymium, praseodymium or erbium sulphate, beautiful coloured crystals may be obtained.

Ceria does not melt at c. 1900°, but it volatilises in vacuo quite rapidly at that temperature. It readily melts in the electric furnace and attacks the containing vessel.

Ceria is a very stable oxide, but it can be reduced to the metallic state by heating it with aluminium or magnesium. By neither of these methods, however, has a regulus of the metal been obtained. The action of other reducing agents is discussed in connection with cerous oxide and ceroceric oxide.

Crystalline ceria is very resistant towards acids and alkalis. The amorphous substance after ignition is insoluble in hydrochloric or nitric acid, except in the presence of a suitable reducing agent, e.g. hydrogen peroxide, hydriodic acid, or stannous chloride, when it passes into solution as a cerous salt. Concentrated sulphuric acid converts it into ceric sulphate, while moderately concentrated acid causes partial reduction to cerous sulphate and dilute acid has no perceptible action.

Ceria acts as an oxygen-carrier towards other substances, in a manner that is not at present understood. It may therefore be employed as the catalyst in Dennstedt's method for the combustion of organic compounds.

Ceria is a very weakly basic oxide; it is possible that it can also act as a feebly acidic oxide. It has been pointed out in describing the preparation of ceria that rare earth mixtures obtained by the ignition of the mixed oxalates are completely soluble in nitric or hydrochloric acid, -provided that the ceria does not exceed 45 to 50 per cent, of the mixture; pure ceria, however, is insoluble in these acids. The usual explanation of these results is that the ceria acts as a feeble acid and combines with the other strong bases present to form salts; these salts are decomposed by a strong acid with the liberation of ceric acid, i.e. ceric hydroxide, which is soluble, as a base, in the excess of strong acid present. If such is the case, the salts must apparently be of the type M2O3.2CeO2 or 2M2O3.3CeO2 in order to account for the 45-50 per cent, limit to the solubility of the ceria.

Ceria combines with uranium dioxide. When a dry mixture of cerous and uranyl sulphates is heated with molten magnesium chloride in a covered crucible for fifteen hours, deep blue cubic crystals are produced which can be separated from the accompanying substances by reason of the relative stability towards dilute acids. The composition of the crystals approximates to that required by the compound UO2.2CeO2. A similar deep blue compound may be obtained by precipitating an aqueous solution of uranyl and cerous nitrates with excess of ammonium hydroxide or dilute potassium hydroxide solution; the precipitate is at first yellow, but soon changes to a denser blue solid.


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