Calcium Carbonate : Building lives in more ways than one

Calcium carbonate is a naturally occurring mineral also known as dolomite. It is a constituent of almost all living and non living things on the planet. It is found in rocks, soil, sea bed, is an important structural component of the skeletal system of animals, plants and humans. It is needed in several industries- construction, polymers and health care. Some of its important applications are as follows:

Uses of Calcium carbonate:

• Dolomite is a naturally occurring component of several materials used in building and construction purposes. These are limestone, quartz, marble and other rocks.
• In addition, it is used in manufacture of glass, concrete, cement, which are also used in building and construction.
• Depending upon the grade of material needed, the pore size and fineness of dolomite is prepared.
• The industries of paint production and paper production have recently discovered the numerous benefits of employing this compound in their production process.
• Extremely white, glossy and strong paper can be produced if fine, high quality carbonate is added during the pulp making process. Another benefit of this is that now the paper requires much less raw material in its preparation. This proves to be very cost effective and aids in conservation as well as better utilization of natural resources
• Similarly, paint industry is enjoying the advantages of using dolomite. This is used to produce high quality, low maintenance, smooth finish and glossy appearance paint.
• Calcium and its allied salts are needed for several biological functions. Thus, it is a major component of many pharmaceutical preparations. It is used to formulate dietary supplements to overcome calcium deficiency. This helps to get strong bones, muscles and teeth.
• This compound is highly water soluble and binds water from anything it is mixed with it. Thus, it is a major component of medicines developed to combat diarrhea and dysentery. It helps in improving stool consistency.
• Secondly, it is very good at regulating pH, hence it is used in antacid tablets. It is very effective in providing relief in these circumstances.
• Another important consequence of its pH regulating abilities is that it can be used to maintain the ionic balance of soil and water. This is very important for the environment and helps to combat the bad effects of acid rain and other forms of pollution.
• This is widely used to support plant growth.
• It is a valuable component in food preservation. Here also it helps in regulating acidity as a side benefit.
Calcium carbonate needs to be produced under strictly controlled manufacturing steps so that it can play its required role in which industry it will be utilized. It is basically prepared by heating limestone to very high temperatures, which causes release of the gas carbon dioxide. Then water is added to the treated lime and subsequently, carbon dioxide collected from the first step is passed through the mixture. This crude carbonate is then purified by a variety of steps to make it suitable for the intended industrial application.

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