What is Zinc Element? Properties, Uses and Prices of Zinc Element

Image Source: Wikimedia.

Zinc is a very controversial metal, that finds different kinds of topics and research areas to itself. Zinc is used as a metal material in many sectors but also in the health sector, zinc is more in the foreground. Zinc has very distinct properties compared with other materials and metals and because of these properties, it is used as the primary material in most applications. Here, we mentioned zinc material in different viewpoints such as chemistry, mechanics, engineering, medical, and economics. You can find information and interpretations about the zinc element in these topics; 

  • Definition and short story of the zinc element, 
  • Chemical properties of the zing element, 
  • Mechanical properties of the zinc element, 
  • Production of the zinc element, 
  • Applications and systems that zinc element is used, 
  • The medical importance of zinc element, 
  • The economics of zinc element; production in the world, logistics, and prices. 

What is the Zinc Element? 

This question is a very open-ended question for the zinc element. Because this general question about zinc can be answered according to the different fields and different viewpoints. But if we need to give a proper answer for it, Zinc is an element that is classified as a metal in the periodic table.

  • The atomic number of the zinc element is 30. 
  • The classification of the zinc in the periodic table; group number is 12, the period number is 4 and the block is d. 
  • The state of the zinc element at room temperature is solid. 

If you make a very small research about zinc element, you will find very basic information like the above about it. Also, some atomic properties can be added to the zinc element. 

  • The atomic radius of the zinc element is 135pm. 
  • The covalent bonding radius of the zinc element is 131pm. 
  • The Van der Waals radius of the zinc element is 139pm. 

The elemental zinc is not comprehended as a metal element when it is first used. Zinc is approached and called fake silver by the Romans. But in roman civilization, brass was a very common material where zinc is alloyed with copper. In the around 1750s, zinc element which is at the 99% purity is found in a shipwreck. Zinc is brought from colonies to the Netherlands with ships. In different civilizations and societies, zinc is called by different names. But the first zinc element is called Zinck as a metal by Paracelsus in 1490. 

Physical and Mechanical Properties of the Zinc Element

There are different physical and mechanical properties of the zinc element compared with the other ones. The most important mechanical property of zinc is brittleness. Pure zinc is found as a brittle material. Other mainstream metals such as copper, aluminumand others are found as malleable and soft. 

  • The melting temperature of the zinc element is 419.527°C(787.149°F) which is relatively low compared with other metals and materials. 
  • The boiling point of the zinc element is 907°C(1665°F) which is also very low compared with other metals. 
  • The density of the zinc element is 7,14 g/cm³, which is average compared with other metals again. 
  • The heat of fusion of the zinc element is 7,32 kJ/mol. 
  • The heat of evaporation of the zinc element is 123,6 kJ/mol. 
  • The capacity of the zinc element is 25,390 J/(mol·K). 
  • Thermal expansion of the zinc element 30,2 µm/(m·K) at 25°C.

If we talk about other physical and mechanical properties which are affecting the usage areas of the zinc element; 

  • The electrical resistivity of the zinc element is 59,0 nΩ·m which is very low compared with the other elements. In general, the electrical resistivities of metals are low. 
  • The heat conductivity of the zinc element is 116 W/(m·K) which is also very good compared with other materials. Also, the heat conductivity values of metals are very good. 
  • Mohs hardness of the zinc element is 2.5 which is relatively low compared with other metals. 
  • The Brinell hardness of the zinc element is 412 MPa. 

How the Zinc Element is Produced? 

There are different production methods of elemental zinc are used by different countries. But in the modern world, zinc is produced with special extractive metallurgy methods. Zinc is generally found as zinc sulfur ore and the extractive metallurgy methods are used to extract pure zinc from zinc sulfur minerals. First of all, zinc sulfur mineral is converted to zinc oxide with pyrometallurgy and floatation techniques. With the application of sulfuric acid to this zinc oxide, zinc powder is obtained. With the electrolysis method, pure zinc is electrolyzed to the cathode side of the electrolysis. These zinc cathodes are used to cast the zinc metal in foundries.

In Which Applications that Elemental Zinc is Used?

Galvanization process(Image Source: Wikimedia.)

Because of the different chemical and physical properties of zinc metal, it is used in different kinds of industrial applications. 

  • The most important application of the zinc element is the galvanizing of the steel parts with zinc element to prevent corrosion and enhance the corrosion resistance of the steel parts.
  • In the automotive industry, zinc element is heavily used as casting molds. 
  • Zinc is commonly used as an alloying element in the production of; brass, nickel silver, german silver, etc. 
  • The bodies of electric batteries are made from zinc elements. 

The different chemical variations of zinc element are used in different applications; 

  • The zinc methyl is used in the synthesis of the many organic materials, 
  • Zinc chloride is used in the deodorants, 
  • Zinc sulfur is used as a shining material in the dark. Because of it, it is commonly used as a shining material on the components that are used in the dark. 

These are the general applications that the elemental zinc is used. Also in lots of medical applications, zinc element is used. 

Medical Applications and Medical Importance of the Zinc Element

Image Source: openfoodfacts.

Zinc is a very important mineral for the human body and it has numerous health benefits of zinc element. There are different illnesses and health issues that zinc-based medicals are used as remedies. 

  • In the yellow spot disease, elder people can have a yellow spot complaint because of the zinc deficiency in the body. With the taking of a sufficient amount of zinc, this disease can be eliminated. 
  • In today’s world, chronic fatigue is one of the most important complaints of people. Zinc tablets and foods that are rich in zinc will be very effective to prevent this chronic fatigue situation. 
  • The immune system is improved with the taking of the required amount of zinc. 
  • Wounds are recovered more rapidly after receiving the required amount of zinc. 
  • Diarrhea disease can be recovered with the intake of the required amount of zinc. 
  • Zinc has a very big effect on recovering tissue problems such as pimples, and acne. 

Which Nutritions Have Zinc in Them?

The required amount of zinc is taken from natural sources also. You can consume, spinach, mushroom, okra, peas, green lentil, and asparagus to increase your zinc intake naturally. 

Also, zinc can be taken from animal-sourced foods such as red meat and sea foods. 

What Happens in the Zinc Deficiency? 

The most important side effect of zinc deficiency is hair loss. With the intake of a sufficient amount of elemental zinc to the body, hair loss can be compensated. 

As we stated above, chronic tiredness is one of the most important indicators of zinc deficiency. People that have chronic tiredness can use zinc tablets which are sold without prescriptions. 

The white spots on the nails are another important indicator of Zinc deficiency. 

Production of the Zinc Element in the World

Because of the importance of the zinc element in different applications such as industry and medicine, production of the zinc element is very critical. If we take a look at the production rates of the zinc element in the world, we can see that the biggest producer of the elemental zinc is China with a production of 4.300.000 tonnes. The total production of zinc in the world is 13.000.000 tonnes and the ratio of China in this production is 33% which is a very big percentage. The second and the third producers of zinc that come after China are Peru and Australia with the production rates of 1.400.000 and 1.300.000 tonnes respectively. If we take a look at the situations of other countries in the production of zinc; 

  • China: 4.300.000 tonnes, 
  • Peru: 1.400.000 tonnes, 
  • Australia: 1.300.000 tonnes, 
  • India: 800.000 tonnes, 
  • The US: 780.000 tonnes, 
  • Mexico: 690.000 tonnes,
  • Bolivia: 460.000 tonnes, 
  • Russia: 300.000 tonnes, 
  • Canada: 300.000 tonnes, 
  • Kazakhstan: 290.000 tonnes, 
  • Sweden: 230.000 tonnes. 

This information about the production of zinc elements in the world will be very important in the interpretation of the zinc prices and economics of the zinc in the world. 

Prices of the Zinc Element in the World

Before delving into the prices of zinc elements in the world, we need to understand the factors that are affecting the prices of zinc elements.

First of all, zinc is not an investment tool that is used by investors. We can not seek investor behaviors to assess the prices of the zinc element. Investor behaviors are very apparent for precious metals such as gold and maybe silver. But investing and investments are not the main factors that affect the zinc prices in the world. 

The biggest producer of zinc elements in the world is China. So, the political and economical situation in China will affect the zinc prices in the world. 

Also if we look at the biggest importers of Zinc in the world, the biggest Zinc importer is the US. Also, the EU countries are in the first place in importing zinc elements. So, the economical and political relations between China and the US will affect the zinc prices in the world. Also, the situation of the commercial logistics between the US and China is a very important factor that affects the zinc prices in the world. We can assess the zinc prices according to these facts. 

Image Source: tradingeconomics.com.

tradingeconomics.com provides very good data that ranges nearly 60 years of zinc prices in the world. If we take a look at the 60 years of prices, there is a great increment in zinc prices. But this increment is because of the inflation rate that is applied to the US dollar. There are some imminent peaks and downs in the zinc price graph and the most important increment is around 2008. 2008 is a very important year the global economic crisis happened which is centered in the US. Because of this economic crisis, the exportation and importation of the zinc element are affected heavily, and you can see the sharp peak in the zinc price. The zinc price has seen the highest level at that peak. 

Also, you can see another peak in zinc prices around 2016 when the trade war between the US and China started. Also, the covid-19 outbreak is another important factor in the prices of zinc. 

As you understand that zinc prices are affected by the economical situations of the biggest countries and the politics between these countries. Price estimations of zinc elements in the world can be made according to this extent. 

Conclusion About the Elemental Zinc

In this article, we tried to give information and interpretations about zinc from different viewpoints of different fields. A reader can take a general viewpoint about zinc elements by reading this content. Zinc is a very important element and it has very specific properties to be used in very specific applications. 

If you have additional information about zinc elements or if you are from a sector that is closely related to zinc elements, your precious feedback will be very valuable both for us and the readers of this article! 

FAQs About the Zinc Element

  • Does the zinc element a metal?

Yes, zinc is a type of transition metal but zinc is a confusing mineral to people. Most people know zinc as a primary nutrient other than its metal properties. 

  • Why there is no stability in the zinc prices in the world?

Because the prices of zinc depend on different external factors that we stated above. Demand and supply of the zinc element in the world, production rates of the zinc element, logistics of the zinc element, and political and economical situations between the zinc exporter and importer countries. 

  • Why zinc is very important for health?

Zinc is a very important mineral for our body. Without zinc, we can not stay healthy. There are various benefits of zinc minerals; recovering diarrhea, recovering the eye and sight problems, recovering constant tiredness, etc. 


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