Engineering minerals for performance applications: an industrial perspective
Abstract:To a mineralogist, minerals are defined primarily by their crystal structure and chemical composition. Many minerals of industrial importance retain this identity in their final application. For the producer and end user, the physical properties of these industrial mineral products such as size and shape distribution, refractive index, density, hardness, refractoriness and colour are of primary importance, since it is the combination of these, together with its surface chemistry, which gives the mineral its functionality. As a result, minerals which are very different in structure and origin but have many similar physical properties, such as kaolin and calcium carbonate, are often used in very similar roles and in similar applications.
Examples of mineral use in diverse applications such as paper, paints and coatings, polymers and films show how the physical properties of different minerals are exploited and engineered to provide optical, mechanical and rheological performance and to minimise cost. Industrial mineral producers have been manipulating these properties for many decades and continue to do so in search of improved performance and new applications. As new high performance materials become more commonplace, the challenge is to find new ways of transforming minerals to provide the necessary functionality for them.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2014