Introduction to Zinc Carbonate

Zinc carbonate is a white crystalline powder also known as smithsonite or calamine or zinc spar. It was named after the scientist (english) James Smithson. It is an ore of zinc, the zinc Carbonate formula is ZnCO3. Earlier smithsonite was confused with hemimorphite before it was realized that both of them were two different minerals. Both the minerals have similar appearance and the term calamine is used for both of them, which led to this confusion. It is a white and odorless crystalline solid, sub-micron, or nano-powder and is insoluble in water, alcohol, or acetone but is only slightly soluble in ammonia. It is soluble in alkalis and acids. Zinc carbonate is an important source of zinc because it can be easily converted to other zinc compounds such as zinc oxide. The process can be achieved by heating which results in the formation of zinc oxide and carbon dioxide. This process is also known as calcination.

Let's discuss more about Zinc Carbonate Structure, Its physical and chemical properties.

Zinc Carbonate Structure

Given below is the structure of Zinc carbonate:

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Physical Properties of Zinc Carbonate 

  • The molecular weight of Zinc carbonate is 125.38 g/mol.

  • The Boiling Point of Zinc carbonate is 333.6 °C.

  • The Melting Point of Zinc carbonate is 1970 °C.

  • The Density of Zinc carbonate is ‎3.5 g/cm3.

  • It is a white powder and has a faint vinegar odor.

  • It is basic in nature so the pH level is above 10.

  • It is insoluble in water.

Chemical Properties of Zinc Carbonate

Zinc carbonate reacts with acids to form zinc chloride and releases carbon dioxide gas.

ZnCO3 + HCl  →  ZnCl2 + CO2

ZnCO3 + H2SO4  → ZnSO4 + CO2 + H2O

Zinc carbonate while going for decomposition reaction forms zinc oxide and releases carbon dioxide gas.

ZnCO3 → ZnO + CO2

Hydrothermal synthesis of zinc carbonate is a result of the reaction between ZnCl2 and K2CO3.

ZnCl2 (aq) + K2CO3 (aq) → ZnCO3 (s) + 2KCl (aq)

Uses of Zinc Carbonate

  • It is an inorganic salt and is commonly used as a catalyst in organic synthesis reactions.

  • It is an appropriate precursor for the fabrication of zinc oxide particles.

  • It is extensively used in rubber production as a raw material. It is added to improve the translucency or transparency of the natural rubber material as these two materials have a very comparative refractive index. 

  • Due to its fungicide and antiseptic properties. It is used in a wide range of products such as bath, make-up, personal cleanliness, shaving, oral care, and skin & hair care products.

  • It is also used in animal feed additives. Lack of zinc carbonate can restrict the animal’s growth because it has an important contribution for the development of bone.

  • zinc carbonate is also used in the petroleum industry as a Sulphur absorber.

  • It is used in dusting upon inflamed surfaces as an astringent and absorbent.

  • Due to its antiseptic properties it is frequently used in pharmaceuticals.

Conclusion

Zinc carbonate is an ore of zinc and is an essential material in many applications. Demand for zinc carbonate is increasing because its application areas such as cosmetics, agriculture, or rubber production are growing at a rapid rate. Depending on its application, production scale, or structure there are different synthesis routes uses of zinc carbonate. Zinc nano-powder can be extensively used in areas like rubber production, respiratory systems, or cosmetics. The size of the powder greatly affects the performance of the material. Lastly, the use of zinc carbonate seems to increase in the future due to the growing cosmetic, rubber, and agriculture industries.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question: Is Zinc Carbonate Toxic?

Answer: Yes It is toxic in nature, Below are some effects of Zinc Carbonate:

  • Zinc carbonate can affect when directly breathed in.

  • Direct contact can irritate skin and eyes.

  • Breathing directly can cause coughing and wheezing.

  • High exposure may damage the liver.

Question: What happens when Zinc Carbonate is Calcined?

Answer: When zinc carbonate is heated in the calcination process, it is converted into zinc oxide and then it is easily converted to metal. When Zinc carbonate is heated it is in a white powdery solid form, gives carbon dioxide and a yellow solid of zinc oxide. As it forms a different product, it will undergo chemical changes.

On cooling yellow solid turns into white color, which is a physical change. The process involves both physical and chemical change. The heating of zinc carbonate is a chemical change and then cooling the product obtained is a physical change. 

ZnCO3 →ZnO + CO2

Question: What is appropriate Zinc Doses?

Answer: Zinc and its Doses

  • The risk of kidney disease increases with low zinc in the diet. People with hemodialysis kidney disease are also at risk with zinc deficiency and need zinc supplement for proper functioning. 

  • Vegetarian diets are often associated with lower absorption level of zinc. This form of diet is also one of the risk factors for the depletion of zinc. But in the long term, the body may adapt. Zinc absorption and zinc loss elimination will get stronger.

  • Excessive long-term consumption of alcohol is also related to low absorption of zinc in the body. 

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