Argon (Ar) is the most abundant of the seven noble gases and is the third-most abundant gas (at 0.934%) in the Earth’s atmosphere after nitrogen and oxygen. It’s odorless, colorless, nonflammable and is almost completely inert. It does not combine with other elements except under extreme conditions and its nonreactive nature plays a factor in its many uses.

Argon’s lack of reactivity makes it particularly useful in the production of reactive elements and compounds because it establishes an atmosphere devoid of oxygen, minimizing the purity contamination for resulting metals and crystals during oxidation. It is manufactured for industrial uses by the process of fractional distillation, which separates Argon from Oxygen and Nitrogen in their liquid states.

Most used in the metal industry for metal production, processing, and fabrication, it can be used as a pure gas for certain shielding, blanketing, annealing, and hot isostatic pressing applications. It can also be used as part of a mixture with other gases, in particular carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen or helium, depending on the process and material. Argon is used in every day household objects such as incandescent light bulbs and energy efficient windows, and it also plays a very important role as a purge gas in the production of solar panels. Often used as a preservative for both food and historical document preservation, Argon has no impact on the environment and doesn’t harm aquatic life.


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Argon lasers are used in several medical applications including treatments for various eye conditions, such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, and diabetic eye disease. Dermatologists have used argon lasers to treat ulcers, lesions, and polyps. The advantage of using an argon laser for these applications is the ability to target a precise area. Liquid Argon is used in surgical applications to freeze and destroy cancer cells.

Some industrial processes can require very high temperatures and argon is used where ordinarily non-reactive substances would become reactive. As an inert gas, argon can be used to provide an environment free from oxygen and nitrogen for any process that involves high temperature heat treatment. In welding, Argon is used as an inert shielding agent. Shielding protects molten metal from contamination and oxidation caused by harmful atmospheric gases. Adding helium improves argon’s heat transfer properties, while combining argon with carbon dioxide or oxygen can help stabilize the welding arc.

Due to its low thermal conductivity, argon provides window manufacturers with the gas barrier they need to produce double or triple pane insulated windows. During the production process, argon gas is injected between two windowpanes. This insulation barrier greatly improves the window's energy efficiency.