7.134
65.38
[Ar] 3d104s2
64Zn
12
4
d
30
2, 8, 18, 2
906.402
Zn
7.134
419.527°C, 787.149°F, 692.677 K
907°C, 1665°F, 1180 K
Andreas Marggraf
Identified as an element in 1746, but known to the Greeks and Romans before 20BC.
7440-66-6
22430
More Information
expand all +
collapse all -

Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Zinc, a versatile and indispensable metal, finds extensive utility in a multitude of everyday household items.

Appearance

A silvery-white metal with a blue tinge. It tarnishes in air.

Uses

Zinc: The Unsung Hero of Modern Life


Zinc, with its atomic number 30 and symbol Zn, is an unassuming metal that quietly but indispensably supports our modern way of life. Often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, such as iron and copper, zinc is a versatile element that plays a crucial role in various industries and everyday applications. In this article, we will unveil the numerous uses of zinc, from health to construction, that make it an unsung hero of modern life.

 

Galvanization for Corrosion Protection


Zinc's ability to form a protective barrier against corrosion is one of its most well-known applications. By galvanizing iron or steel with a layer of zinc, these materials become highly resistant to rust and deterioration. Galvanized steel is widely used in construction, including the construction of buildings, bridges, and highways. It is also a key component in the creation of durable and rust-free fencing, guardrails, and outdoor structures.

 

Battery Production


Zinc-air batteries are a common type of primary (non-rechargeable) battery used in various applications, from hearing aids to remote controls. These batteries rely on the electrochemical reaction between zinc and oxygen to generate electrical power. They are favored for their high energy density and long shelf life.

 

Health and Nutrition


Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human health. It plays a crucial role in various physiological processes, including immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. Zinc is found in a variety of foods, and dietary supplements are often recommended to address zinc deficiencies. It is especially important during pregnancy and for growing children to support healthy development.

 

Sunscreen and Cosmetics


Zinc oxide is a key ingredient in many sunscreens. It provides effective protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation by reflecting and scattering the sun's rays. This not only safeguards the skin from sunburn but also reduces the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. Zinc is also used in cosmetics, where it serves as a skin protectant and contributes to various skincare products' formulations.

 

Agriculture and Fertilizers


Zinc is an essential nutrient for plants and plays a vital role in their growth and development. Zinc deficiencies in soil can lead to stunted plant growth and reduced crop yields. In agriculture, zinc sulfate or other zinc-containing fertilizers are applied to address soil deficiencies and ensure healthy and productive crops.

 

Alloying with Other Metals


Zinc is often alloyed with other metals to create a range of useful materials. For example, brass, a copper-zinc alloy, is known for its attractive gold-like appearance and is used in the production of musical instruments, decorative items, and plumbing fixtures. Zinc is also alloyed with aluminum to create materials used in the die-casting process for automotive and aerospace components.

 

Automotive Industry


Zinc plays an important role in the automotive industry. It is used for die-casting various components, including door handles, locks, and other interior and exterior parts. Zinc die-casting is favored for its cost-effectiveness and ability to produce intricate and precise parts with high durability.

 

Paints and Coatings


Zinc is used as a key ingredient in anti-corrosion paints and coatings. Zinc-rich paints and primers provide protection to surfaces exposed to harsh environmental conditions, such as offshore structures, bridges, and industrial equipment. These coatings extend the lifespan of these structures and reduce maintenance costs.

 

Pharmaceuticals


Zinc is found in various over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceutical products. It is used in lozenges, supplements, and ointments to address cold symptoms, support wound healing, and promote skin health. The antimicrobial properties of zinc contribute to its effectiveness in wound care and dermatological treatments.

 

Soldering and Metallurgy


Zinc is an important component of solders used in joining metals together. It is used in various applications, from electrical wiring to plumbing. Additionally, zinc is used in metallurgical processes for refining and alloying metals, such as copper and aluminum.

 

Conclusion


Zinc, often overshadowed by other more renowned metals, is a versatile and indispensable element that quietly underpins our modern way of life. Its applications span across industries, from construction and automotive to health and agriculture. The use of zinc in everyday products, such as sunscreen and cosmetics, highlights its essential role in promoting human well-being and everyday comfort.

Furthermore, zinc's contribution to protecting metal structures from corrosion and its role in energy storage through batteries make it an unsung hero of industry and technology. As we continue to advance and innovate, zinc's versatility and reliability will ensure that it remains a crucial element in our modern world, supporting various facets of our daily lives while quietly contributing to our health, safety, and well-being.

History

Zinc, represented by the symbol Zn and atomic number 30, is an unassuming metal that has quietly contributed to human civilization for centuries. While its significance may not be as celebrated as some other metals, Zinc's history is rich, enduring, and woven into the fabric of our technological advancements, health, and industry. In this article, we will embark on a historical journey to explore the fascinating legacy of Zinc, tracing its evolution from antiquity to the present day.

 

The Early Origins of Zinc


Zinc's history dates back to ancient times, although it remained undiscovered as a distinct metal for millennia. Early civilizations used Zinc compounds, such as zinc oxide, for medicinal purposes, brass production, and even cosmetics. The use of these compounds showcased Zinc's versatility and potential, but the metal itself remained hidden.

 

Discovery of Zinc as a Metal


The true identity of Zinc as a metal was not unveiled until much later in history. Credit for this discovery goes to the Indian subcontinent, where Zinc was first isolated in its metallic form, possibly as early as the 6th century AD. Skilled Indian metallurgists achieved this remarkable feat by distilling Zinc from its ores, marking the first recorded instance of mankind isolating Zinc as a pure element.

In India, Zinc was referred to as "Jambu" or "Yasada," and it was primarily used for medicinal and alchemical purposes. It was valued for its healing properties and used in the preparation of various remedies and elixirs.

 

Zinc in Ancient Alloys


The history of Zinc's use as an alloying agent is also intriguing. The ancient Romans and Greeks unknowingly employed Zinc in the production of brass, a copper-zinc alloy. This alloy was used for various applications, including coins, decorative items, and tools. The Romans, in particular, played a pivotal role in advancing the understanding and use of Zinc in the form of brass.

 

The Birth of Zinc Distillation


The process of distillation, essential to isolate Zinc from its ores, was a significant development in the history of Zinc. It was further refined during the Islamic Golden Age, particularly by the Persian alchemist and scholar Abu-Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, commonly known as Geber. He described the distillation of Zinc oxide into its metallic form in the 8th century.

The introduction of Zinc distillation marked a crucial step toward understanding the metal's unique properties and applications. It was during this period that Zinc gained recognition for its distinct nature.

 

Zinc in Medieval Europe


Zinc and its alloys, especially brass, continued to be used and traded throughout the medieval period. However, Zinc's true identity remained a mystery. Zinc ores, often referred to as "calamine," were mined and processed in Europe, but the metal remained concealed within the ores, primarily used for medicinal or alchemical purposes.

 

Zinc as a Precious Metal


During the Renaissance, Zinc was sometimes considered a precious metal, much like gold and silver. Its scarcity, coupled with its medicinal and alchemical significance, contributed to its perceived value. The alchemical belief in the transmutation of base metals into noble ones, including Zinc into gold, added to its allure.

 

Isolation of Zinc by Distillation


The 17th century marked a significant breakthrough in the history of Zinc when the German chemist Andreas Libavius successfully isolated Zinc by distillation. This marked the definitive recognition of Zinc as a distinct and pure metal, separate from other ores and compounds. Libavius' work laid the foundation for further understanding Zinc's properties and potential applications.

 

Zinc's Industrial Revolution


The industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries brought about a surge in demand for Zinc. The metal's unique properties, including its corrosion resistance and malleability, made it a valuable material for various industrial applications. The production of Zinc increased as it found its way into the emerging fields of metallurgy, construction, and shipbuilding.

 

The Development of the Zinc Industry


By the mid-19th century, the first Zinc smelters were established in Europe, marking the birth of the modern Zinc industry. The development of more efficient methods for Zinc extraction and refining led to increased production and the widespread use of Zinc in various applications.

 

Zinc in the 20th Century


The 20th century witnessed the continued rise of Zinc's importance in various industries. It became a staple in galvanization processes, protecting steel structures from corrosion. Zinc-coated steel played a crucial role in the construction of bridges, buildings, and pipelines.

Zinc's role in health and nutrition also gained prominence during the 20th century. It was recognized as an essential mineral for human health, supporting immune function, wound healing, and overall well-being. Zinc supplements became a common dietary recommendation, particularly for individuals with deficiencies.

 

Modern Uses of Zinc


In the 21st century, Zinc's significance has further expanded. It plays a vital role in renewable energy technologies, such as zinc-air batteries used in electric vehicles. These batteries offer an eco-friendly and efficient energy storage solution.

Zinc's antimicrobial properties have found applications in healthcare settings. It is used in the manufacturing of antimicrobial surfaces, reducing the risk of infections in hospitals and public spaces.

 

The Future of Zinc


As the world continues to advance technologically and environmentally, the role of Zinc is expected to expand even further. Its applications in renewable energy, healthcare, and industry make it an essential and versatile element for the modern age.

 

Zinc's journey through history is a remarkable testament to human ingenuity and the gradual unveiling of the metal's true nature. From its early use in ancient civilizations to its pivotal role in modern industry and technology, Zinc's legacy is woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

As we continue to harness Zinc's unique properties for sustainable and innovative solutions, its history reminds us of the enduring value of this unassuming yet indispensable metal. From its early medicinal use in ancient India to its contribution to renewable energy in the 21st century, Zinc's journey continues, leaving an indelible mark on human progress and well-being.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.01
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): Not stable
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.20
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 1.65
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
906.402 1733.3 3832.687 5731.2 7969.7 10420 12929 16788

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 1
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
64Zn 63.929 49.17 > 7 x 1020 y EC-β+
66Zn 65.926 27.73 - -
67Zn 66.927 4.04 - -
68Zn 67.925 18.45 - -
70Zn 69.925 0.61 > 2.3 x 1016 y β-β-

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 4.8
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 72
Recycle Rate (%): >30
Production Conc.(%) : 30
Top 3 Producers:
1) China
2) Australia
3) Peru
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) Australia
2) China
3) Peru
Substitutability: Low
Political Stability of Top Producer: 24.1
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 74.5

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 388
Shear Modulus: 43.4
Young Modulus: 108.4
Bulk Modulus: 72.0
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
1.47 x 10-6 0.653 - - - - - - - - 72.0

Podcast

Transcript :



Zinc is a basic element that is very important to the functioning of our organisms. Zinc is a relatively common element in nature. It is a transition metal and is similar in some ways to aluminum. This element is important for healthy growth during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.

The human body is composed of approximately 1.5 grams of zinc. Most of this is stored in the bone. A few percent is in the skin.

The mineral is essential for the immune system and cell signaling. It is also involved in wound healing.

Zinc is a key player in the structure and function of more than 300 enzymes. This element is also needed for cell signaling and protein synthesis. In fact, it plays a key role in the metabolism and learning process.

Several studies have found that taking a zinc supplement can reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with HIV infection. The supplement may also decrease the intensity of certain diseases. Excess zinc consumption can cause nausea, lethargy and ataxia. In addition to this, it may stunt the development of youngsters. Zinc has been linked to episodes of diarrhea, as well as persistent ear abscesses and diseases of the lower gastrointestinal tract. It is also an important ingredient in sunscreens and a component of several medicines.

Additionally, it contains a history that details the development of the substance over the course of many years. The history of zinc is long and complex. It includes information about ancient Indian and Chinese smelting works. The history of zinc dates back to around 1200. The first mention of zinc was made in a Roman text. Before the year 1546, no one in the Western world was aware of its existence. In 1743, Bristol, England became the location of the first zinc smelting to be created in Europeans.

A similar smelting process was invented in Silesia in the late 1700s. This method of extracting the metal was fuel-inefficient and required many cycles of removing the crucible. While the discovery of zinc was made in Europe during the 17th century, its smelting process was not known until about the middle of the 18th century. Early European smelters used the vertical retort procedure. This smelting process was not fuel efficient and consumed a large amount of coal for each ton of spelter that was produced.

A smelting technique called the speltering process was developed in the UK and Germany in the 18th century. This method was unsuccessful however, and led to the demise of the zinc industry.

This metal is an element that occurs naturally in the crust of the earth and might be found in both water and air. The first occurrence of zinc was in the form of brass.

The most important ores of zinc are sphalerite, smithsonite and wurtzite. Both limestone and dolomite are frequent locations for zinc occurrences. These are mined worldwide but more specially, more than 40% of the world's zinc is produced in the US. It worths to mention that this element is often found in association with lead.

The most important part of the zinc extraction process is the Froth Flotation process. This involves the separation of the Zinc from the Zinc sulfide.

This element is an important component in a wide range of goods, such as leads zinc composites and galvanized irons. Commercial production of zinc began in Europe in the 18th century. Some mines remain active in both Europe and the U.S. Countries including Canada, south America countries, and Russia, all have active zinc mining industries.

Zinc has a number of interesting properties. It is a highly oxidizing metal that has a very low boiling point. This metal is also a good conductor of electricity. This element is included in the composition of a variety of alloys.

As a chemical element, zinc is classified into group 12 of the periodic table. It has a latent heat of vaporization of 115.3 kilo joules per mol. It is slightly less dense than iron and is somewhat reactive.

Zinc's properties have been studied in organic laboratories and by researchers interested in the role of the atom in human health. It has properties that are beneficial for both humans and animals. Zinc is a metal that is highly reactive and may operate as a reducing agent in certain chemical processes. It is often combined with base metals for a number of reasons, including this one. However, zinc is also incompatible with strong bases and chlorinated solvents.

It is also useful in treating a number of ailments. Zinc was used as an alloy for bronze and brass in the ancient world. This element is also widely used today in many construction applications. It is one of the metals used in a number of products including deodorants and luminescent paints. Zinc applications can be divided into four categories: zinc alloys, galvanizing, household electrical appliances and batteries. Zinc alloys are primarily used in the mechanical and automotive industries. Brass was used as a protective coating for metal objects. Zinc alloy was used for similar purposes. In addition, Romans used it to make coins.

Throughout the centuries, the use of zinc as a construction material grew exponentially. Since then, it has become one of the most common metals for building and has been used in everything from housing to cars.

One-third of all metallic zinc produced today is used for galvanizing other metals. This application strategy is effective in satisfying the demands of trees, while reducing environmental exposure.

The goal of this project is to determine the effects of zinc application strategies on the uptake of zinc by tree leaves. This will enable better determination of zinc fertilizer application strategies.

References


  • W. M. Haynes, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 95th Edition, Internet Version 2015, accessed December 2014.

  • Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby Online, 16th edition, 1995. Version 1.0 (2005), accessed December 2014.

  • J. S. Coursey, D. J. Schwab, J. J. Tsai, and R. A. Dragoset, Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (version 4.1), 2015, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed November 2016.

  • T. L. Cottrell, The Strengths of Chemical Bonds, Butterworth, London, 1954.

  • John Emsley, Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, New York, 2nd Edition, 2011.

  • Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility - Office of Science Education, It’s Elemental - The Periodic Table of Elements, accessed December 2014.