Global Strontium Carbonate Market: Overview
Strontium, an alkaline earth metal, ranks 15th in terms of abundance among elements found in the earth’s crust. It occurs in the form of strontianite and celestine mineral ores. Strontianite is composed of strontium carbonate, while celestine is composed of strontium sulfate. These two are the only minerals that contain strontium in an amount sufficient to make its recovery practical. Strontium does not occur as a free element in nature, due to its high reactivity to air and water. It exists in the form of its compounds, majorly as carbonate and sulfate salts.
Strontium carbonate is the carbonate salt of strontium with chemical formula SrCO3. It appears in the form of white or grey powder. It occurs in the form of strontianite mineral deposits in nature; however, only a few deposits discovered are suitable for development. Even though strontianite would be more useful of the two commonly found minerals (the other being celestine), as strontium carbonate is the largely used compound with a wide variety of applications; it is not available in quantities sufficient to make its recovery practical. Strontium carbonate is hygroscopic in nature i.e. it can attract and hold water molecules from the surroundings. This makes it a highly preferred strontium compound. Another factor is low cost of production.
Strontium carbonate has a large number of applications including the manufacture of strontium ferrite for permanent magnets and preparation of luminous paints and shimmering glass. It is also used in the production of strontium ferrite magnets which are employed in microwave devices, small electric motors, magneto-optic mediums, recording mediums, and in the electronics & telecommunication industry.
Strontium carbonate is individually used in fireworks, flares, and other pyrotechnics as a red colorant. When combined with copper compounds, it acts as a purple colorant. Refining of zinc with the help of strontium carbonate is carried out by using a specialized form of electrolysis known as electrowinning. Electrowinning is the process of electrodeposition of zinc from its ore, which is put in the solution through a process called leaching.
Being a weak Lewis base, strontium carbonate can be employed to produce different strontium compounds, simply by using the corresponding acid. Strontium chloride can be prepared by treating strontium carbonate with hydrochloric acid. The reaction between strontium carbonate and sodium dichromate yields strontium chromate. Strontium nitrate is typically produced by the reaction of nitric acid with strontium carbonate. The decomposition of strontium carbonate results in the formation of strontium oxide.
Strontium aluminate (SrAl2O4) and strontium chromate (SrCrO4), which are prepared from strontium carbonate, are used in the paints & coatings industry for luminescence requirements and anti-corrosive coatings, respectively. Strontium carbonate descendants such as strontium chloride, strontium ranelate, strontium acetate, strontium peroxide, and strontium nitrate are used in various drugs.
Global Strontium Carbonate Market: Key Segments
Based on application, the strontium carbonate market can be segmented into pyrotechnics, ferrite magnets, master alloys, paints & coatings, medical, zinc refining, and others. Based on region, the strontium carbonate market can be divided into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific dominates the global strontium carbonate market in terms of volume, due to presence of one of the top producers i.e. China in the region. The region also holds a significant market share in terms of consumption of strontium carbonate. Asia Pacific is followed by North America and Europe. Mining facilities of strontium are limited to certain geographies, as the occurrence of minerals is limited to specific regions. However, several countries import the mineral from which strontium carbonate can be produced domestically. For instance, the U.S. imports strontium minerals from Mexico in order to synthesis strontium carbonate from the ores.
Global Strontium Carbonate Market: Key Players
Some of the players operating in the strontium carbonate market are backward integrated into mining of strontium minerals. Key players in the global strontium carbonate market include Solvay, Sakai Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., Quimica Del Estroncio S.A., and BassTech International.