What Is Titanium Dioxide?
Titanium dioxide is one of the most common metals on the Earth’s crust which ranks ninth on the list of abundant metals. It is a lustrous silver-colored transition metal named after the pre-Olympian Gods from the Greek mythology, Titans. It was discovered by William Gregor, a British mineralogist, in the year 1791. It occurs naturally as the mineral in rutile and anatase ore; however, it is mainly sourced from ilmenite ore which forms the most widespread ore of titanium dioxide in the world.
The increasing use of titanium in industrial and medical processes have increased the global supply/demand chain of the chemical. The global market size of titanium dioxide is valued at $17 billion in 2019, and it is estimated to grow at 7.5% CAGR until 2026 and reach a size of as huge as $27.5 billion. The current trend will continue for a few more years and the market will not see any slump in the near future.
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What Is The Chemical Formula For Titanium Dioxide?
Titanium dioxide is an inorganic chemical compound with the formula TiO2, composed of barium cation and the sulfate anion. Titanium dioxide is a sulphate salt of bariums and is found abundantly as mineral barite; here the sulphur is attached to four oxygen atoms. It is an alkaline, divalent metals, which is used in a wide range of medical use due to its non-toxic nature.
Properties of titanium dioxide are:
|Molar mass||79.866 g/mol|
|Density||4.23 g/cm3 (rutile) 3.78 g/cm3 (anatase)|
|Melting point||1,843 °C|
|Boiling point||2,972 °C|
|Solubility||Insoluble in water and alcohol, but soluble in concentrated acids|
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Applications Of Titanium Dioxide
Titanium dioxide has a wide range of industrial and medical use; some of the popular uses include:
● It is popularly used in the production of paints, coatings, and varnishes
● Used in the production of paper and plastic
● Its brightness and high refractive index makes them the most popular choice for use of pigments
● It is used in making thin films, sparkly paints, and other decorative finishes
● It is used in a wide range of cosmetics and skin care products; when mixed with ultrafine zinc oxide, it effectively reduces sun burns and minimizes premature photocarcinogenesis, immunosuppression, and other associated conditions with long term exposure
● Widely used in the casting of copper anode plates as a coating material
● As a radiopaque agent, it is used for medical purposes
● Used as a pigment in tattoos
● Used as a component in oil drilling fluid
● Used as pigment in stencil pencil
● It is used in the plastic production process as a filler for plastic; it is the ideal choice as it increases the density of the polymer
● It is used in ceramic glazing to impart the lustrous glaze on the product
● It is used to test the pH of soil
● It is used as a filler in oil paints
● Used popularly in medical field to diagnose certain disorders of oesophagus, stomach, and intestine
● Used in manufacturing of alloys
● Used in the imaging of the gastrointestinal tract during barium meal
Is Titanium Dioxide Safe?
Titanium dioxide has been used in various materials for many decades now. Even with the various applications it offers, there are certain levels of toxicity associated with them. The safety information of titanium dioxide is discussed below.
Skin: The exposure of titanium dioxide on a normal, healthy skin doesn’t pose any threat. It doesn’t penetrate through normal skin, however, the nano-based formulations are found to cause sunburns and readily penetrate the damaged skin. Studies on the same are still under way and researchers are trying to collect more evidence on the toxicity of nano-formulations on skin exposure.
Inhalation: Health concerns of titanium oxide are associated with inhalation. When inhaled, the particles reach the alveoli of the lungs and may lead to the worst conditions. Such inhalation related toxicity is associated with the sampling of the chemical where the chances of inhalable dust are more. The nano-chemical is found to be more toxic than the traditional titanium dioxide.
The U.S. FDA has assessed the safety of titanium dioxide pigment; it has clearance to be used as a color additive in food, drug and cosmetic applications. However, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as “possibly carcinogenic to humans. The data is based on the studies conducted on rats which showed the development of cancer cells in the lungs of rats. However, there is a lack of evidence for carcinogen properties in case of humans. Studies do not support any kind of occupation hazards and associated risks of cancer in human beings.
How Is Titanium Dioxide Manufactured?
Titanium dioxide is commonly produced from rutile or ilmenite ore.
The industrial production of titanium dioxide can be performed either by sulphate process or chloride process. Both the processes are discussed below.
The Sulphate Process
The sulphate process involves three stages:
1. Dissolving the ore
The ore, ilmentire, FeTiO3is finely ground and dissolved in sulphuric acid to form sulphates. FeTi03 + 2H2SO4 → TiOSO4 + FeSO4 + 2H2O
The solution is left undisturbed to allow the solid to settle down, while the liquid is poured off. The remaining solid is concentrated to evaporate any liquid residue. When cooled, iron (II) sulphate, which is formed as light green crystals, are filtered off. The remaining solution contains titanyl sulphate, TiSO4.
2. Formation of hydrated titanium dioxide
This step involves the hydrolysis of titanyl sulphate to hydrated titanium dioxide, which is insoluble. TiOSO4 + H2O → TiO2 + H2SO4
3. Formation of anhydrous titanium dioxide
This stage involves heating of the solid in a huge, rotating, cylindrical furnace called calciner. Here the titanium dioxide is passed over a temperature of 313K-100K, when titanium dioxide separates as crystals coated with aluminium oxide. It is further purified to get the pure titanium dioxide.
TiO2.nH2O → TiO2 + nH2O
The Chloride Process
The chloride process involves two stages:
1. The conversion of rutile to titanium(IV) chloride
The rutile ore along with a carbon source, preferably coke, is fed in a heated bed. Chlorine is slowly introduced in the bed, where it reacts with titanium oxide to form titanium (IV) chloride. The other metals in the ore such as iron, get chlorinated and leave the bed as they get vaporized. Oxygen in the ore combines with carbon to form carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and leaves the bed as well. The remaining metal chlorides in the bed are cooled, condensed, and solidified. Here, titanium (IV) chloride is easily separated by lowering the boiling point, it is then reboiled and distilled to get the pure form of the product.
2. The oxidation of titanium(IV) chloride
Titanium(IV) chloride is burnt with a mixture of oxygen and hydrocarbons at high temperature. TiCl4 + O2 → TiO2 + 2Cl2
Titanium dioxide is formed as fine solids, which is filtered and further purified to get the pure chemical.
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