The chemical element zinc (Zn) is necessary to modern life. It is the principal ore mineral in the world, the 23rd most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and fourth among all metals in world production, after iron, aluminum, and copper. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and has a silvery-greyish appearance when oxidation is removed. Its uses range from metal products to rubber and medicines, but zinc’s primary use is to galvanize steel or iron parts.
Zinc naturally forms a passivation layer when exposed to air. A thin coating of zinc oxide forms that stops the corrosion of the metal (galvanization). Galvanization prevents the steel or iron it coats, from rusting. In addition, galvanization offers many other advantages, such as:
- Longer Life: A piece of galvanized industrial steel is expected to last more than 50 years in typical environments and 20 years with major water exposure.
- Durability: A finished galvanized product is more durable and more reliable than unfinished metal products.
- Cost Effectiveness: Galvanized steel is immediately ready to use upon delivery and does not require additional preparation of the surface, inspections, painting, or coating, saving the company expenditures.
The most common method of galvanizing is hot-dip galvanizing, in which steel or iron is dipped in a molten pool of zinc that maintains a temperature of around 860 degrees F. The molten bath begins a metallurgical bond between the zinc and the receiving metal. After the metal is pulled from the bath, it reacts to exposure to the atmosphere, and the pure zinc mixes with oxygen to form a layer of zinc oxide. The zinc-oxide further reacts to carbon dioxide and forms zinc carbonate, which makes up the final protective coating on the material. The identifiable signature of a hot-dipped galvanized material is a crystalline-like surface pattern, sometimes called “spangle.” This is commonly seen in bare metal fixtures from hand railings to municipal light fixtures.
Other Uses for Zinc Metal
- Energy Storage
- Battery Electrolyte: Because zinc uses a water-based chemistry that results in the inability to sustain fire, it is safer and does not have the risk of thermal runaway, which can cause fires. Noah Chemicals has successfully worked with a major battery brand to develop a potassium hydroxide electrolyte as a suspending agent to keep zinc in a gel form.
- Electrodes for Batteries
- Zinc-Ion Batteries: Zinc-Ion batteries are safer, cheaper, and longer-lasting than lithium batteries. Also, the raw materials used in zinc-ion batteries are excessively more abundant than those used for lithium-ion batteries.
- Zinc Compounds
- While three quarters of all zinc is used as a metal, primarily galvanized metal, the remaining quarter is consumed as zinc compounds particularly by the rubber, chemical, paint, and agriculture industries.
- Zinc Alloys are often used as coatings for galvanized steel. Galvanizing steel parts and components in vehicles helps to prevent corrosion.
- Galvanized Tin Roofs
- Medical Industry
- Zinc alloys are used for medical devices as zinc is considered environmentally safe.
- Construction and Buildings
- Zinc alloys are used throughout the construction industry in a wide range of products and applications. It can be used as a solder, household fittings, and as a coating on roofing and cladding products.
- Marine Industry
- Zinc alloys are often used as sacrificial anodes for marine vessels and other applications that will be exposed to saltwater environments.
Noah Chemicals will work with you to meet your zinc metal needs. For more information about how Noah Chemicals can assist you with the highest quality zinc metal, please contact us here or call (888) 291-1186.