Chemical Element: manganese

(Latin: magnes, "magnet"; because of confusion with magnetic iron ores; or magnesia nigri, meaning "black magnesia"; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Mn
Atomic number: 25
Year discovered: 1774

Discovered by: Johann Gottlieb Gahn (1745-1818), Swedish mineralogist and chemist.

  • Manganese was first recognized as an element by the Swedish chemist, C. W. Scheele, while working with pyrolusite, manganese dioxide ore, and it was isolated by his associate Johann Gottlieb Gahn in the same year.
  • He reduced the dioxide, as the mineral pyrolusite, with charcoal (essentially carbon) by heating and the result was a sample of the metal manganese.
  • Scheele was also involved in the discovery of a number of elements, though he never managed to get undisputed credit for a single one of them.
  • By 1774, he had done most of the preliminary work that led to the discovery of the element managanese.
  • His friend, the Swedish mineralogist Johan Gottlieb Gahn; however, completed the final step and got credit for the discovery.
  • The metal is gray-white, resembling iron, but is harder and very brittle.
  • It is chemically reactive, and decomposes slowly in cold water.
  • Manganese is widely distributed throughout the animal kingdom.
  • It is an important trace element and may be essential for utilization of vitamin B.
  • It is vital to plant and animal life and is essential to reproduction in animals.
  • Manganese is present in quantity on the floor of oceans and it is an important component of steel.
  • The addition of manganese in the Bessemer steel-making process, initiated in 1856 by Robert Mushet, made that process a practical success.
  • In 1882, Robert Hadfield discovered the high-manganese steels which bear his name.
  • The use of manganese is essential in steel manufacture for deoxidation and the control of sulfur content, and this application is said to account for over 90% of the manganese consumed in all forms in the United States.
  • Somewhat less than 13 pounds of manganese, chiefly in the form of ferromanganese, is used for each ton of steel produced, and no substitute exists for it.

Name in other languages:

French: manganése

German: Mangan

Italian: manganese

Spanish: manganeso

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.