Calcium Carbonate Technical Data

Calcium Carbonate – What is it?

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In its natural state, calcium carbonate occurs as chalk, limestone and marble. Wet and dry grinding methods are commonly used in processing for industrial uses. To obtain higher levels of brightness and lower abrasion characteristics, calcium carbonate is processed by optical sorting, flotation and/or particle-size classifying.

Industrial Wonder

Processed to varying degrees of purity, calcium carbonate exhibits an attractive combination of high whiteness, brightness, low hardness and reactive properties. Paper, plastic, paint, rubber and caulk producers use calcium carbonate as a way to improve quality and lower manufacturing cost. Plate glass, bottle and fiberglass producers use large quantities of calcium carbonate as a source for calcium, an essential ingredient in their manufacturing processes. Used in water treatment systems and stack-gas scrubbing systems for its ability to neutralize acidic manufacturing by-products, calcium carbonate also helps to make many industrial plants more environmentally friendly.

Household Wonder

Calcium carbonate is found in everyday products such as bathroom cleaner, shoe polish, and toothpaste. Calcium carbonate is even used as a source of calcium in food.

Processing

The processing of calcium carbonate ore is one of size reduction coupled with innovations to improve specific properties. Typically, a stone deposit found underground or in an open quarry is drilled and blasted. The blasted rock is loaded and hauled from the quarry to a processing mill. The rock is crushed, washed and sized. The washing removes fines that can contain a significant portion of the impurities. The processing mill, or plant, further processes the material by either a dry or wet grinding method. Additional processing in the form of optical sorting, flotation and/or particle-size classifying is used to provide engineered filler suitable for the customer's application.

Mineralogy

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Calcium carbonate ores can be found in two of the three major types of rocks: sedimentary and metamorphic. Sedimentary rocks, as the name suggests, form from sediment or from transported fragments deposited in water. Limestone, for example, is formed from inorganic remains, such as shells and skeletons. Metamorphic rocks—such as marble, slate, quartzite—form when a rock mass is subjected to great heat and pressure. The principal element in the calcium carbonate ore is calcium (Ca). The ore may contain other elements—Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe) and Manganese (Mn)— that affect whiteness, hardness and specific gravity.

Major Markets for Calcium Carbonate 1-Paper

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The paper industry is a major consumer of mineral pigments. In paper coating applications, calcium carbonate, fine ground from 0.5 to 3.5 microns (the average width of a human hair is 100 microns), is used to make a whiter, brighter sheet. In paper filling applications, calcium carbonate can improve the whiteness of the sheet and reduce costs by replacing expensive fiber and pigments. The chemical properties of calcium carbonate are used to produce non-acidic paper.

Major Markets for Calcium Carbonate 2-Plastics

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The plastics industry is the largest consumer of ground calcium carbonate. It is the major engineered filler used in plastics with more than 55 percent of the total mineral consumption. The majority of the calcium carbonate is consumed in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), thermo set polyesters and polyolefins. Calcium carbonate is widely used in the plastics industry for a variety of qualities: it has controlled whiteness, it improves impact strength, it aids in processing and acts as a heat sink in exothermic curing systems. It also reduces costs by replacing expensive plastic resins. Calcium carbonate-containing plastics are commonly found in shower stalls, commercial and residential floor tiles, bathroom sinks, pipe and conduits.

Major Markets for Calcium Carbonate 3-Caulks and Sealants

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The caulks and sealants industry is another major market for calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is the major portion of the minerals used in these products.

Major Markets for Calcium Carbonate 4-Carpet Backing

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Calcium carbonate enhances viscosity and volume of the latex adhesive used to hold carpet fibers in place.

Paint

Calcium carbonate makes up about 20 percent of the pigments used in the paint industry. Calcium carbonate is used to extend the resin or polymers because of its controlled color and low cost. Calcium carbonate also is used to control the sheen or gloss in flat paints.