Boron enters the environment mainly through the weathering of rocks, boric acid volatilization from seawater, and volcanic activity.
Boron combines with oxygen and other elements to form boric acid or inorganic salts called borates.
Borates are used for:
- Insulation fiberglass
- Textile fiberglass
- Heat-resistant glass
- Detergents, soaps and personal care products
- Ceramic and enamel frits and glazes
- Ceramic tile bodies
- Agricultural micronutrients
- Wood treatments
- Polymer additives
- Pest control products
- Boron is an essential component in the manufacture of borosilicate glass used in LCD screens
Boric Acid uses:
- As an antiseptic/anti-bacterial compound
- Flame retardant
- In nuclear power plants to control the fission rate of uranium*
*Boric acid is used in nuclear power plants to slow down the rate at which fission occurs. Boron is also dissolved into the spent fuel cooling pools containing used fuel rods.
Natural boron is 20% boron- 10 which can absorb a lot of neutrons. When you add boric acid to the reactor coolant – or to the spent fuel rod cooling pools - the probability of fission is reduced.
The first half of 2009 saw a sharp drop in demand for borates, but in the second half of the year
markets for both textile-grade fibreglass and borosilicate glass recovered.
World production of borates remains mostly concentrated in the US and Turkey – these two countries account for 75% of supply.
Chinese boron - both in terms of quantity and grade - is inadequate to meet domestic demand so the country is now the largest importer of both natural borates and boric acid.