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What is a carbonate, and what is it used for?

Can you give me the specifications of "carbonate"? What it is used for?
J.van Maurik -trucks@worldonline.nl

A carbonate is a compound that contains the CO32- ion. Inorganic carbonates are ionic compounds that combine metal cations with the carbonate ion.

There are several carbonates that are economically important. Here are just a few of their end-uses (there are hundreds!):

  • Soda ash (Na2CO3), or sodium carbonate, is used in the manufacture of glass, paper, rayon, soaps, and detergents. It is also used as a water softener, since carbonate can precipitate the calcium and magnesium ions present in "hard" water. Soda ash is also used to control pH (carbonate solutions neutralize acids, producing only carbon dioxide and water). Sodium carbonate is used in the chemical industry to synthesize many different sodium compounds, including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium silicate (used in detergents), sodium tripolyphosphate (a detergent builder), sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium chromate and sodium dichromate (used in chrome plating), sodium aluminate (used in refining aluminum), and sodium cyanide (for electroplating).
  • Limestone (CaCO3) is used in refining iron ore and manufacturing steel, making agricultural lime, making cement, in scrubbers that remove sulfur from flue gases, and the manufacture of soda ash.
  • Potash (K2CO3), or potassium carbonate, is used in the manufacture of glass.
  • Lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) is used in the production of glasses, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and aluminum.
  • Strontium carbonate (SrCO3) is used to manufacture CRT tubes for televisions and computers. It also is used in red fireworks.
  • Nickel carbonate (NiCO3) is used in electroplating and in the manufacture of ceramics.
  • Cobalt carbonate (CoCO3) is used as a catalyst in the refining industry, as a ceramic pigment, and as a mineral supplement for livestock.

Author: Fred Senese senese@antoine.frostburg.edu



General Chemistry Online! What is a carbonate, and what is it used for?

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Last Revised 02/15/10.URL: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/inorganic/faq/carbonate-uses.shtml