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Chemical Properties of Group 3B Elements

Chemical Bonding
Elements of group III B are less reactive compared to the s-block elements. Here is a discussion on the chemical properties shown by them.

Action of air and water: Boron is an inert element and does not react directly either with water or air. It reacts to some extent with air when heated. But boron remains inert with water even with hot water. Aluminum reacts readily with water and also decomposes water at ordinary temperatures. Upon reaction with water, aluminum forms a layer of oxide which prevents its further reaction. Gallium and indium are inert and do not react with air even at higher temperatures. The same is the case with water. However, they react with water in the presence of oxygen. Thallium tarnishes in air due to formation of thallium oxide. Thallium reacts with moist air to form thallium hydroxide.

Action of acids: Boron reacts only with nitric acid forming boric acid. Aluminum, gallium and indium dissolve with acids to form corresponding trivalent ion. However, reaction of gallium and aluminum with nitric acid reduces due to formation of a protective film of oxide. Thallium dissolves in acids forming univalent ions. It remains passive upon reaction with hydrochloric acid due to formation of water insoluble thallium chloride.

Reaction with alkalis:

Boron dissolves only in fused alkali. However, aluminum and gallium dissolve in fused as well as the aqueous forms of alkali. Indium remains inert with alkalis.

2B + 6NaOH (fused) --→ 2Na3BO3 + 3H2

2Al + 2NaOH +2H2O---→ 2NaAlO3 + 3H2

Reaction with Halogens and nitrogen:

All the elements of group IIIA react with halogens to form halides. However, the reaction with nitrogen is restricted only to boron and aluminum. They react with nitrogen and form nitrides.

Solved problems
  • Which of the following statements is true?

    • Boron does not readily react with air and water
    • Boron reacts with air when heated
    • Gallium and indium react readily with water
    • A and B
    Answer: d
  • Boric acid is formed due to reaction between

    • Boron and HCl
    • Boron and nitric acid
    • Boron and sulphuric acid
    • Boron and tartaric acid
    Answer: b
  • Reaction of thallium with hydrochloric acid decreases due to

    • Formation of thallium chloride
    • Formation of thallium hydride
    • Liberation of chlorine
    • Liberation of hydrogen
    Answer: a

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