The use of lead in the chemical, oil and gas, electronics and other industries

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Despite the elimination of lead from many consumer applications in recent years, due to health and environmental concerns lead is still an important metal with many uses in several industries.

Despite the elimination of lead from many consumer applications in recent years, due to health and environmental concerns lead is still an important metal with many uses in several industries.

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  • 1. The use of lead in the chemical, oil and gas,electronics and other industriesLead remains an important metal in industrial processes.Despite the elimination of lead from many consumer applications in recent years,due to health and environmental concerns lead is still an important metal w ith manyuses in several industries.Lead Pipes are used to transfer corrosive materials, lead pow der is used as alubricant and in the semiconductor industry and lead alloys have a wide variety ofapplications.This article will provide information on the uses of lead in industrial manufacture aswell as information about Nuclead Inc. a manufacturer of lead products and relatedservices.Lead Pipes in IndustryFor many centuries lead pipes were used to supply wate r to households, mostfamously during the Roman Empire. In fact the term plumber derives from the Latinword for lead.More recently though, due to health problems associated with lead, lead pipes havebeen banned for use in the home, except for some vent and drainage systems.Lead pipes are still used in industry today because of the properties of lead thatinclude malleability, flexibility and resistance to corrosion. Typical applicationsinclude chemical plants, paper manufacturing plants and Hydro and platingapplications.Lead Pipe for these applications is made f rom either chemical Pure lead or up to 6%Lead Antimony Alloy.Lead pipes are used in pulp and paper industry in cooling systems which use sulf urdioxide gases and in transporting the bleaching stock which uses hydrogen peroxideor zinc hydrosulphite and for draining the discharge from the pulp digestersOther applications for Lead Pipes are for Soil Waste, Ventilating, and telephone andtelegraph underground piping, pressure tubes (coppe r lead) and cable sheathing.Lead Powder in IndustryLead powder either as pure lead, lead oxide or litharge lead (Litharge is one of thenatural mineral forms of lead oxide) find multiple applications in many industriesincluding:
  • 2. Oil and gas exploration, Rad iological Medical protective clothing, Industrial X-rayshielding, Golf club manufacturing and anti-friction products.Powere d lead, pow dered Babbit (see below) and lead oxide have been used inlubricating grease, to reduce or eliminate wear. Lead powder is also used as thebasis for some corrosion resistant paints. Lead oxides are used in producing fine"crystal glass" and "flint glass" of a high index of refraction for achromatic lenses.Lead Pow der is still used in the electronics industry even though one major use oflead for solder has been all but eliminated due to environmental concerns. Forexample, high density, polycrystalline photoconductors can be made by hot -pressingpowdered lead monoxide. Such photoconductors will exhibit increased absorption ofradiation, increased signal-to-noise ratios, and improved spatial frequency responsesLead Pow der is also used for the preparation of pressed and bonded sputteringtargets and in Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) systemsLead AlloysAs with most metals, lead casting (heating the metal to its liquid form and thenpouring into a mold) is a common method of creating the basic or complex shapesused in numerous applications.Because lead is very soft and ductile, it is often melted with other metals to creat elead alloys with specific required properties, commonly with Antimony, Tin, Arsenic,Bismuth, Copper, and ZincLead antimony alloys provide additional hardness to the lead and are often used instorage battery grids, sheet lead and pipe castings. Antimony contents of lead-antimony alloys can range from 0.5 to 25%, but they are usually 2 to 5%.Lead arsenic alloys are also used to increase hardness; arsenical lead is used forcable sheathing and is important in the production of round dropped lead shot.Tin adds ductility and strength to lead. Lead alloyed w ith tin, bismuth, or otherelements, either alone or in combination, forms alloys with particularly low meltingpoints. Some of these alloys are referred to as fusible alloys; in particular lead tinalloys are used in lead solder and historically as pewter.Several lead based alloys are referred to as Babbitt metal, lead Babbitt or bearingmetal, and are used in the bearing surface on bearing. The name Babbit is named forits inventor Isaac Babbitt from Taunton, Massachusetts, USA, who first formulated atin based bearing alloy in 1839. Today a several varieties lead based Babbitt alloysexist, including:Lead antimony (80% lead, 15% antimony, 5% tin)Lead Tin (75% lead, 10% tin)Copper-lead based Babbitt (76% copper, 24% lead)
  • 3. Copper-lead-tin based Babbitt composed of (67% copper, 28% tin, 5% lead)Originally used as a cast in place bulk bearing material, it is now more commonlyused as a thin surface layer in a complex, multi metal structure.Lead Rod and Lead WireLead Rod has been used in a many industrial applications including electricalinterconnection in computers, lighting equipment, motor leads, heating and coolingequipment, harness fabrication and automotive.Lead wire in highly pure form is commonly used in the semiconductor industry inchemical vapor Deposition (CVD) and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) processesincluding Thermal and Electron Beam (E-Beam) Evaporation, Low TemperatureOrganic Evaporation, Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), Met allic-Organic and ChemicalVapor Deposition (MOCVD).It is also used in gas detection and thermometry equipment. Lead w ire or roundextrusions, are also used were any lead round diameter is required for turning or anyother fabrication purposes. It can be used for lead weights or when flexibility of themetal is needed.Lead ribbonMost lead ribbon is rolled for use in coating and thin film Chemical Vapor Depositionprocesses that are part of the creation of fuel cells and solar energy arrays.ConclusionDespite the elimination of lead in many consumer applications, most notably inplumbing, lead continues to be an extremely useful metal in a very wide range ofindustrial applications.