Boron is a metalloid, rarely found in its elemental, or uncombined form. It is concentrated on Earth in naturally occurring compounds–borate minerals. The largest known deposits of such minerals are in Turkey.
Boron has several allotropes–among them amorphous boron, which is a brown powder, and crystalline boron which is silvery to black in color, extremely hard and a poor conductor of electricity. It is a valuable mineral, whose compounds are used in products across industries such as medicine and cleaning products, cookware, nuclear waste storage and space exploration.
Close to half of all pure Boron consumed globally is used as an additive to fiberglass, used as insulation and structural material. Boron is added to metals to make special purpose alloys, and to polymers and ceramics to create high-strength, lightweight, structural and refractory materials. In the making of some high-strength materials, Boron filaments are often applied in ways similar to carbon fibers.
Boron is employed in nuclear reactors, as a shield for radiation, and in instruments used for detecting neutrons. The material has a role in the aerospace industry as well, where it acts as an igniting material for rockets. Trace quantities of Boron are used as a dopant for semi-conductors.
Among the familiar compounds and applications of Boron are Borosilicate glass, and Borax–a component of soaps, detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. Other applications of Borax include its use as a fire retardant, as an anti-fungal compound. Borosilicate glass, on the other hand, is desired for its greater strength and thermal shock resistance compared to ordinary soda lime glass. Another distinct application of Boron is in pyrotechnic flares, where it releases a distinctive green color.
- Aerospace Ignition
- Ceramic and metal composite materials
- Glass products
- Shield for Nuclear radiation