Barytes Powder, also called barite, is a mineral available worldwide, composed of barium sulfate (BaSO4). The largest deposits are in the U.S., Mexico, China, India and Morocco. The name barytes is derived from the Greek baryas meaning heavy or heavy spar, because its most striking feature is its heaviness. The specific gravity, or weight per unit volume, is 4 to 5, which is about twice that of most common industrial minerals. For comparison, calcium carbonate or limestone has a specific gravity of 2.7. Because of this high density, a teaspoon of barytes would weigh close to the same as a tablespoon of salt, which equals three teaspoons. Barytes Powder can occur in numerous colors; white, brown, yellow, red and gray are most common. The colors are the result of impurities such as iron, strontium and lead, and mineral contaminants such as clay and sand. Barite is insoluble in water and is resistant to acid attack.
Uses of Barytes Powder
The largest application of Barytes Powder is as a weighting agent in natural gas and oil field drilling muds. The density of Barytes Powder helps in down-hole flow and bit lubrication.
One of its industrial end uses is as a weighting agent additive in cement, rubber and urethane foams. Barytes Powder is used in paint and powder coatings for metal protection and processing improvement. Barytes Powder is also used in friction products such as brake pads and clutch surfaces. Because barite is so dense that it reduces the passage of x-rays it is used in cement vessels for radioactive material containment, in gastrointestinal x-ray milkshakes and in cathode ray masks in television sets and computer monitors. It also absorbs sound, so is included in sound-deadening sealants and underbody coatings in automobile and other vehicle manufacture.
Barite ore is ground to a range of products of the different sizes needed for the variety of applications. Most commercially available products are 200 or 325 mesh, or finer, down to a few microns. The ore is selected and the process is controlled for one or more of the following properties: color, particle size, specific gravity and bulk density. Some barytes is available in a bleached form to improve color, and there is a precipitated barium sulfate, referred to as blanc fixe, that finds use in high-end paints and coatings and in pharmaceutical applications.
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