The global zinc oxide market is estimate at about 1200kT of which European production accounts for 25%.
Zinc Oxide is produced through three different processes:
Direct or American process, where oxidised zinc bearers are first reduced by carbon, then metal vapour is oxidised by air combustion to produce zinc oxide
Indirect or French process, where various zinc metal sources are melted, vapourised by boiling and oxidised in the vapour state with air to form zinc oxide
Wet chemical process: zinc salts are precipitated by the addition of alkalines and filtered from solution. Zinc oxide is then generated by dehydration or calcination.
Zinc oxide producers are typically recyclers: raw materials mainly used are residual oxidic materials coming from the galvanising process (drosses) or other (ashes) or zinc bearing materials from mixed sources.
Tyres and technical rubber:
Acting as vulcanising agent
Improvement of the aging resistance
Enhancement of the abrasion resistance
Improvement of the adhesion and aging resistance of adhesives
Ceramics & glass:
Important raw material for the production of frits and glazes:
ZnO increases the elasticity of the glazes and its chemical persistence.
ZnO reduces the fusion point during the melting process.
Improvement of the optical properties and reduction of the thermal volume expansion glass
Important trace element securing the supply of zinc in farm animals and crops
Pharma & Cosmetics
UV absorber in sun creams
Astringent component in skin care
Wound healing component in ointments
Component in dental cement
Trace element in nutrient supplements
Raw material for the production of organic zinc compounds for additives and lubricants
Starting compound for synthesis of organic & inorganic compounds (sulphates, phosphates, stearates)
As a semi-conductor, ZnO is an important material for the production of electronic components: