Boron in Construction

Dec 21, 2021 | INDUSTRY SECTORS, APPLICATIONS

Boron – Key Element in Industrial Construction

Boron is a key element in industrial construction – the construction of businesses with manufacturing plants, power plants, refineries. It is a strengthening additive in concrete, steel, and aluminum alloys for structural support. It also helps prevent corrosion by shielding against corrosive agents like saltwater or chlorine. Boron also plays a vital role in steel production by acting as a fluxing agent during the smelting process.

Boron Industrial Construction

Boron Industrial Construction

 

Boron as Strengthening Additive in Steel

Steel construction in industrial construction uses multiple metals to strengthen and harden it against stress and corrosion. Wear-resistant steel plate, also called abrasion-resistant or AR plate, is made from steel billets and comes in many grades. Alloys like carbon, manganese, nickel, chrome, and boron are added in different proportions. Different stages have other mechanical and chemical properties that will produce different results in an end product. 

Boron Extends Life of Construction Materials

Boron carbide is one of the hardest synthetic substances known, being exceeded only by cubic boron nitride diamond. As an abrasive, it is used in powdered form in the lapping (fine abrading) of metal and ceramic products to extend life. Boron Carbide coatings can be a cost-saving replacement for most wear coatings currently used in the industry. Boron carbide coatings – B4C – form a low-density material with high strength and elasticity. It is the hardest material next to diamond, making it extremely valuable for wear applications due to the direct correlation with wear resistance.  It possesses high resistance to fracture, erosion, and abrasion; and high heat and chemical resistance (i.e., unaffected by acid or alkaline solutions).  B4C coatings have excellent self-mating (lubrication) and anti-galling properties. 

Boron as a Protective Element in Industrial Construction

Combat® grade ZSBN is the leading Boron Nitride grade in molten metal contact applications in industrial construction. The addition of Zirconia to Boron Nitride enhances the wear resistance and non-wetting of molten metal, even at elevated temperatures – an essential feature for components coming in direct contact with the metal melt at high temperatures.

Boron Nitride’s high chemical resistance against a vast majority of molten metals, combined with exceptional thermal shock resistance, makes it ideal for various molten metal contact applications. In addition, Boron Nitride is easily machinable into complex shapes for quick prototyping, offering an advantage over traditional materials.

B4C is an excellent material for industrial construction in the nuclear industry. It is a perfect neutron absorber for use as a radiation shield. Hence, it is used extensively in building nuclear reactors.

Boron as a Flame Retardant Construction Material

Boron is also used in flame-retardant construction materials. In combination with boric acid, sodium borate (branded as  Neobor ®* by one producer) is particularly effective in reducing the flammability of cellulosic materials. Borates change the oxidation reactions in the combustion of cellulosic materials to cause the formation of carbon residue, which is a barrier to combustion and diverts the decomposition products that would otherwise smolder.

*Neobor is stable under ordinary conditions, free-flowing, and easily handled by air or mechanical conveying.

Flame retardant additives are required for safety standards because polymers can easily ignite and burn. One of the many commercial uses of borates includes fire retardancy. Zinc borate, a boron-containing flame retardant, has significant commercial significance. U.S. Borax developed and first commercialized a novel form of zinc borate, with a molecular formula that is known in the trade as firebrake® ZB

Boron in Industrial Glass

Neobor is often present in industrial glass, acting as both flux and network, controlling glass melt and strengthening the final product. With a low coefficient of thermal expansion, the glass becomes resistant to heat, thermal shock, and chemicals. It can also be combined with boric acid to control the sodium-to-boron ratio in specific glasses. 

Borates, for example, are an intense flux that lowers the glass batch melting temperature during fiberglass manufacturing. This aids in fiberizing and improves durability. And when those glass fibers are used in electronics or aerospace applications, borates enable control of dielectric properties–one reason textile fiberglass made with boric oxide is used in the manufacture of printed circuit boards, microelectromechanical systems, and thermal insulation tiles like those on the U.S. space shuttle.

Boron in Walls and Flooring

Boron also increases the strength, scratch resistance, and chemical resistance of ceramic wares such as wall and floor tiles, tableware and porcelain, and enameled appliances. By controlling the expansion coefficient, Neobor facilitates the thermal fit between the glaze and ceramic body. It also reduces melting temperatures, inhibits devitrification, and provides smooth, even finishes.

Boron in Ceramics
APPLICATIONS, Ceramic and Enamels

Borates in Ceramics

Ceramics - ceramic glazes and enamels - are applied to ceramic ware, sanitary ware, tableware, and tiles. Borates are used extensively in such enamels and ceramic glazes. Borates used include colemanite, ulexite, and several specialty borates, which provide efficient production and protection against the elements to the finished products.

Borates in Paints
APPLICATIONS

Borates in Paints

Borates in Paints: Borates are widely used in paints, coatings, and printing inks as buffering agents. They also provide flame retardant, anti-corrosive, and anti-bacteria protective benefits, applied in marine and aviation coatings for example. Boric acid, borax decahydrate, borax, zinc borate, and perborates/metal borates are compounds most used in paints and coatings.

Boron in Eyewear
APPLICATIONS

Boron in Eyewear

Boron in eyewear and optics has many applications. Borate minerals such as potassium borate, sodium tetraborate, and boric acid are widely used in manufacturing optical materials. Boron has been an essential ingredient for manufacturers of optical materials since 1887 for eyewear given its water-soluble presence, with benefits including durability, resistance to scratching, and suitability for light transmission.

Boron in Paper Production
APPLICATIONS, INDUSTRY SECTORS

Boron in Paper Production

Borate compounds are widely used in chemical processes and recovery - Boron in paper production - by mills all over the globe. Sodium borohydride is used in paper production primarily to bleach paper in the preparation stage. Boron is also used in the form of borax pentahydrate to support causticising. Borate autocausticization is a cost-saving technique that can help paper mills save money on material, recovery, and energy.

Boron and Quantum Computing
APPLICATIONS

Boron in Quantum Computing

Boron in quantum computing is one of the most exciting areas in science today. Currently, silicon-based qubits provide the processing power for these hugely powerful machines. However, Hexagonal Boron Nitride, hBN, is a promising material for quantum technologies. hBN benefits include lower error rates, an increase in the number of qubits per chip, increased stability, better conductivity, and reduced energy loss. They are also more cost-effective.