Free Science Tutorial on the Chemistry of Zinc


Zinc is a metallic element and belongs to group II B of the periodic table. It belongs to the d block and 4th period of the period table. Zinc is a very important metal with various applications in many industries. The chemistry of this element is discussed in this article.

Introduction:

India is the country that recognised zinc as a metal for the first time. There are pieces of evidence in history that zinc was refined on a large scale during the period 1100 to 1500 in a zinc smelter at Zawar in the present Rajasthan state. Romans know about zinc much before Indians but Romans never recognised the uses of this metal those days. There are indications that China also carried out zinc smelting way back in the 1500s. A Flemish Scientist P. Moras de Respour extracted zinc metal from zinc oxide in the year 1668. In 1746 a German chemist Andreas Margograf also reported the discovery of zinc as an element.

Zinc is bluish-white in colour. This element belongs to group II B of the periodic table.
It belongs to the d block and 4th period of the period table. At room temperature it is brittle. But at higher temperatures (at about110 - 150^Oc) the ductility of the material will increase.

Zinc Production:

There are many ores of zinc. The important ores are zinc blende (zinc sulphide) and calamine (zinc silicate). The zinc mines are in China, Australia and Peru. There are zinc mines in India also.

Zinc is extracted by the following steps.
  1. Roasting: In this process, the zinc sulphide will be converted to zinc oxide through roasting. Sulphur will get removed as sulphur dioxide.

  2. The above-produced zinc oxide will be leached in dilute sulphuric acid and zinc sulphate solution will be produced.

  3. The solution will be purified using hydrogen sulphide in the first step and then with ammonium hydroxide in presence of ammonium chloride in the second step.

  4. The so purified solution will be used for electrolysis to win Zinc.

Properties of zinc

The various chemical and physical properties of this metal are mentioned below.
  1. The atomic number of Zinc is 30.

  2. The atomic mass of zinc is 65.37 g.mol -1.

  3. The density of this metal is 7.11 g.cm-3 at 20^ 0C

  4. The melting point of this material is 420^ 0C.

  5. The boiling point of this material is 907^0C.

  6. Zinc can be readily cast or moulded.

  7. Zinc vapour burns in the air with a green flame and zinc oxide will be formed.

  8. Zinc reacts with weak acids very slowly.

  9. Zinc reacts with sulphur when heated to form zinc sulphide. Zinc sulphide is used to make television screens and fluorescent light bulbs.

  10. Zinc also reacts with halogens. Fluorine reacts with zinc violently. Iodine reacts slowly and generates a small amount of heat.

  11. Zinc is used as a reducing agent in chemical reactions.

Uses of zinc:

Zinc is having many uses and industrial applications also. Some are discussed below.
  1. Zinc is used widely in producing zinc oxides. These zinc oxides are used in rubber production as an additive. This metal will make the rubber more durable and its shelf life will increase.

  2. Zinc is widely used in making zinc sheets that are being used as roofing materials.

  3. Zinc is used for galvanising other materials. Iron and steel will be galvanised using zinc. Once iron is galvanised no rusting of iron will take place. Galvanisation is a process in which a thin coating of zinc will be applied on the surface of other metal sheets.

  4. Many alloys are made using zinc in combination with other metals. Brass is one important alloy of zinc. An alloy is a combination of two or more metals. These alloys will have greater resistance to corrosion and improve their strength.

  5. Zinc oxide is used in many products like cosmetics, inks and plastics. Zinc oxide is having many uses in the health care industry also.

  6. Zinc sulphide is another material that is having many applications in the industry. It is widely used in making fluorescent lights, x-ray screens and luminous paints.

Health effects of zinc:

Zinc is very essential for human beings to maintain good health. If zinc is less in the body, people will lose appetite. Their sensing ability of taste and smell will also comedown. At the same time, too much zinc in the body will cause skin irritations, cramps, vomiting and anaemia. Excess zinc chloride may cause respiratory problems.

Conclusion:

Zinc is a very important metal that has many uses in the modern world. Zinc plays an important role in the health of human beings. Zinc is having many industrial applications. Thus zinc is an essential material on this earth for human beings.


Comments

Author: Umesh22 Feb 2022 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

Zinc is an important metal and is mainly used in the galvanising process, which protects iron and steel from rusting. Zinc is also used to make alloys with many other metals like copper and tin. It has important use in the pharmaceutic industry also. As per the year 2020 industrial data, the world mine production of zinc during that year was approximately 12 million tonnes. If we see the break up of this data then China is the biggest producer of Zinc at 4.2 million tonnes while India (after Australia 1.4 million tonnes and Peru 1.2 million tonnes) is at fourth position with 0.7 million tonnes.
The zinc reserves across the world are estimated approximately at about 250 million tonnes. As per US Geological Survey, Australia, China, Russia and Mexico are having the largest zinc reserves.
Zinc is produced from recycling also from the old galvanised steel, batteries, scrap alloys etc and a good amount of it is recovered in the process of recycling.



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