It can be found in the skeletons of animals, in teeth, eggshells, coral reefs, mollusk shells, and in many types of soil and in water. Calcium is essential to the lives of plants and animals, and to the industry as well. For that reason, our third article in celebration of the International Year of the Periodic Table features this element with the symbol ‘Ca’.
Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and the third most abundant metal. “It’s excellent availability is one of the reasons why it is so widely used throughout industry”, explains Víctor Hebrard, Product Manager for Grupo Barcelonesa. “There are many limestone quarries in Spain where calcium is extracted, but it is well distributed around the world”, Hebrard states. According to the Barcelonesa expert, another positive aspect is that it’s a “cheap material”.
One of the most well-known industrial uses of calcium (combined with other elements) is the production of cement and mortar, two materials that are essential to the world of construction.
The role of calcium as a disinfectant is also widely renowned. Historically, quicklime or calcium oxide has been used to prevent the decay of bodies. It also disinfects water in the form of calcium hypochlorite, with the help of chlorine, and improves the pH of soil thanks to the basifying nature of the hydroxide or carbonate anion, as the case may be. Today, “it is still used to purify water or in swimming pools”, the Product Manager states, “as it eliminates suspended matter, disinfects, and regulates pH”.
The third arena where calcium plays an important role is the food industry. It offers multiple uses as a food additive: “It’s used as a pH stabiliser, as a firming agent, to give bread consistency, for example, or even as a food supplement”, Hebrard explains. Grupo Barcelonesa is an expert in texturizing agents and stabilisers. The company’s extensive experience and in-depth technical knowledge in this field not only enables it to offer a wide array of solutions, but to also provide custom solutions.
The aforementioned sectors are only some of the industrial uses of calcium, of which there are many. Because of its multiple uses and, above all, thanks to its abundant availability and low price, it’s hard to imagine the industry within calcium. “There are always substitute materials, but none are as abundant, cheap, or as easy to work with as calcium”, informs the Barcelonesa expert. Luckily, it looks like calcium availability is a sure thing.