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CARBONATES > Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells.

Formula: CaCO3, Molar mass: 100.0869 g/mol, Density: 2.71 g/cm³, IUPAC ID: Calcium carbonate, Melting point: 825 °C

Uses :

Industrial applications

The main use of calcium carbonate is in the construction industry, either as a building material or limestone aggregate for roadbuilding or as an ingredient of cement or as the starting material for the preparation of builder's lime by burning in a kiln. However, due to weathering mainly caused by acid rain, calcium carbonate (in limestone form) is no longer used for building purposes on its own, and only as a raw/primary substance for building materials.

Calcium carbonate is also used in the purification of iron from iron ore in a blast furnace. The carbonate is calcined in situ to give calcium oxide, which forms a slag with various impurities present, and separates from the purified iron.

In the oil industry, calcium carbonate is added to drilling fluids as a formation-bridging and filtercake-sealing agent; it is also a weighting material which increases the density of drilling fluids to control the downhole pressure. Calcium carbonate is added to swimming pools, as a pH corrector for maintaining alkalinity and offsetting the acidic properties of the disinfectant agent.

It is also used as a raw material in the refining of sugar from sugar beet; It is calcined in a kiln with anthracite to produce calcium oxide + carbon dioxide. This burnt lime is then slaked in sweet water to produce a calcium hydroxide suspension for the precipitation of impurities in raw juice during carbonatation.

Calcium carbonate has traditionally been a major component of blackboard chalk. However, modern manufactured chalk is mostly gypsum, hydrated calcium sulfate CaSO4·2H2O. Calcium carbonate is a main source for growing Seacrete, or Biorock. Precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC), pre-dispersed in slurry form, is a common filler material for latex gloves with the aim of achieving maximum saving in material and production costs.

Fine ground calcium carbonate (GCC) is an essential ingredient in the microporous film used in babies' diapers and some building films as the pores are nucleated around the calcium carbonate particles during the manufacture of the film by biaxial stretching. GCC or PCC is used as a filler in paper because they are cheaper than wood fiber. In terms of market volume, GCC are the most important types of fillers currently used. Printing and writing paper can contain 10–20% calcium carbonate. In North America, calcium carbonate has begun to replace kaolin in the production of glossy paper. Europe has been practicing this as alkaline papermaking or acid-free papermaking for some decades. PCC has a very fine and controlled particle size, on the order of 2 micrometres in diameter, useful in coatings for paper.

Calcium carbonate is widely used as an extender in paints, in particular matte emulsion paint where typically 30% by weight of the paint is either chalk or marble. It is also a popular filler in plastics. Some typical examples include around 15 to 20% loading of chalk in unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) drain pipe, 5 to 15% loading of stearate coated chalk or marble in uPVC window profile. PVC cables can use calcium carbonate at loadings of up to 70 phr (parts per hundred parts of resin) to improve mechanical properties (tensile strength and elongation) and electrical properties (volume resistivity). Polypropylene compounds are often filled with calcium carbonate to increase rigidity, a requirement that becomes important at high use temperatures.[16] Here the percentage is often 20–40%. It also routinely used as a filler in thermosetting resins (sheet and bulk molding compounds)[16] and has also been mixed with ABS, and other ingredients, to form some types of compression molded "clay" poker chips. Precipitated calcium carbonate, made by dropping calcium oxide into water, is used by itself or with additives as a white paint, known as whitewashing.

Calcium carbonate is added to a wide range of trade and do it yourself adhesives, sealants, and decorating fillers.Ceramic tile adhesives typically contain 70 to 80% limestone. Decorating crack fillers contain similar levels of marble or dolomite. It is also mixed with putty in setting stained glass windows, and as a resist to prevent glass from sticking to kiln shelves when firing glazes and paints at high temperature.

In ceramics/glazing applications, calcium carbonate is known as whiting, and is a common ingredient for many glazes in its white powdered form. When a glaze containing this material is fired in a kiln, the whiting acts as a flux material in the glaze. Ground calcium carbonate is an abrasive (both as scouring powder and as an ingredient of household scouring creams), in particular in its calcite form, which has the relatively low hardness level of 3 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, and will therefore not scratch glass and most other ceramics, enamel, bronze, iron, and steel, and have a moderate effect on softer metals like aluminium and copper. A paste made from calcium carbonate and deionized water can be used to clean tarnish on silver.
Health and dietary applications
500-milligram calcium supplements made from calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate is widely used medicinally as an inexpensive dietary calcium supplement or gastric antacid. It may be used as a phosphate binder for the treatment of hyperphosphatemia (primarily in patients with chronic renal failure). It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as an inert filler for tablets and other pharmaceuticals.

Calcium carbonate is known among IBS sufferers to help reduce diarrhea[citation needed]. Some individuals report being symptom-free since starting supplementation. The process in which calcium carbonate reduces diarrhea is by binding water in the bowel, which creates a stool that is firmer and better formed. Calcium carbonate supplements are often combined with magnesium in various proportions. This should be taken into account as magnesium is known to cause diarrhea.

Calcium carbonate is used in the production of toothpaste and has seen a resurgence as a food preservative and color retainer, when used in or with products such as organic apples or food.

Excess calcium from supplements, fortified food and high-calcium diets, can cause the milk-alkali syndrome, which has serious toxicity and can be fatal. In 1915, Bertram Sippy introduced the "Sippy regimen" of hourly ingestion of milk and cream, and the gradual addition of eggs and cooked cereal, for 10 days, combined with alkaline powders, which provided symptomatic relief for peptic ulcer disease. Over the next several decades, the Sippy regimen resulted in renal failure, alkalosis, and hypercalcaemia, mostly in men with peptic ulcer disease. These adverse effects were reversed when the regimen stopped, but it was fatal in some patients with protracted vomiting. Milk alkali syndrome declined in men after effective treatments for peptic ulcer disease arose. During the past 15 years, it has been reported in women taking calcium supplements above the recommended range of 1.2 to 1.5 g daily, for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and is exacerbated by dehydration. Calcium has been added to over-the-counter products, which contributes to inadvertent excessive intake. Excessive calcium intake can lead to hypercalcemia, complications of which include vomiting, abdominal pain and altered mental status.

As a food additive it is designated E170;INS number 170. Used as an acidity regulator, anticaking agent, stabiliser or colour it is approved for usage in the EU, USA and Australia and New Zealand.[25] It is used in some soy milk and almond milk products as a source of dietary calcium; one study suggests that calcium carbonate might be as bioavailable as the calcium in cow's milk. Calcium carbonate is also used as a firming agent in many canned or bottled vegetable products.

Environmental applications

In 1989, a researcher, Ken Simmons, introduced CaCO3 into the Whetstone Brook in Massachusetts. His hope was that the calcium carbonate would counter the acid in the stream from acid rain and save the trout that had ceased to spawn. Although his experiment was a success, it did increase the amount of aluminium ions in the area of the brook that was not treated with the limestone. This shows that CaCO3 can be added to neutralize the effects of acid rain in river ecosystems. Currently calcium carbonate is used to neutralize acidic conditions in both soil and water. Since the 1970s, such liming has been practiced on a large scale in Sweden to mitigate acidification and several thousand lakes and streams are limed repeatedly.

Calcium carbonate is also used in flue gas desulfurisation applications eliminating harmful SO2 and NO2 emissions from coal and other fossil fuels burnt in large fossil fuel power stations.