Calcium carbonate, or CaCO3, is a common mineral that’s found in locations throughout the world.
In the wild, it appears as chalk and limestone, and is easily one of the most useful minerals that we’ve yet found. In addition to the applications you’re probably familiar with, like blackboard chalk in the classroom, calcium carbonate is used in a variety of industrial applications.
The CaCO3 industry is continuing to grow and thrive as new applications for the material are being discovered. According to a recent report, the CaCO3 market is expected to reach or exceed $28.5 billion by 2021. Industry professionals are expecting a 7% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2017 and 2021.
This growth is expected to be attributed to higher demand from the plastic and paper industries, as well as a growing demand for building and industrial applications.
So why is this versatile mineral added to products like paper, plastic and even iron?
Calcium carbonate shows up in more places than you might think. If you look around your household, you might see it in the antacid tablets in your medicine cabinet, in the tube of toothpaste in your bathroom or the box of baking soda in your refrigerator.
CaCO3 is also used in places you might not expect, including as a filler agent for items like paper, plastics and sealants. It can also be used a filler agent for both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
This useful mineral also has industrial applications. It’s often used in the iron industry because it can be used to purify iron during processing. Additionally, it’s useful in the oil industry as part of their drilling fluids. Acidic soil or water could potentially contaminate the oil being drilled for, so calcium carbonate is added to the drilling fluid to neutralize any acidic compounds in the area.
For a common mineral that makes up around 4% of the planet’s crust, it’s easily one of the most versatile materials on the planet.
While it’s a very easy mineral to acquire, the mining of CaCO3 does present some concerns. Of course, there are pros and cons to every situation. Mining CaCO3, in the form of chalk, marble or limestone, is a great way to create jobs and bolster local economies.
On the other hand, these quarries do produce pollution and leave open holes in the landscape where the CaCO3 has been extracted, which can damage the environment. This damage is often easy to reverse, though, and steps have been taken to reclaim these quarry sites after their resources have been depleted, changing them into everything from water parks to hotels, meaning we can continue to enjoy these sites long after the mining operations have ended.
When a mineral like this is used in so many different products, there will always be someone who is concerned about the material itself — including how it’s being used and how it could affect the products or people it’s being applied to.
Calcium carbonate in and of itself is a very safe material to work with, for both humans and inanimate products. When working with CaCO3, it’s important to consider a number of variables, including product consistency and particle size.
Maintaining a consistent level of purity and particle size are two hallmarks of proper CaCO3 use. By utilizing these high levels of product quality, industries can continue to utilize CaCO3 as a filler and purifying agent.
Overall, it’s easy to see why the CaCO3 industry is growing so swiftly, in spite of its potential environmental impact. Calcium carbonate is easily one of the most versatile minerals on the planet, and much of the damage caused by the extraction of this mineral can be reversed with a little time and effort. It’s a fast-growing industry with amazing application potential, and it shows in the projections for future sales.
Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living and has an especially strong passion for helping others increase their mental health and happiness by improving their daily productivity and positivity. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on Productivity Theory. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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