Friday 17th November 2017

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Visual Capitalist: Boron makes modern life possible

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | October 17, 2017

Boron: Making modern life possible

When it comes to modern living, there are so many things we take for granted.

We sleep in warm and comfortable houses, while keeping our food fresh and refrigerated. We have screens in our pockets and throughout our homes that help us connect with our friends and family—and we can drive across town in minutes to see them, if need be.

Oddly enough, many of these subtle aspects of modern living would not be possible without the existence of very specific minerals and the developments in technology that allow them to be used to their full potential.

Enter boron

Boron is an unlikely hero in this regard.

This infographic comes from 20 Mule Team Borax and it covers the properties, applications, market and future trends surrounding boron. And even though you probably didn’t know much about this metalloid element before today, you’ll soon see that boron’s versatile applications make it an integral part of modern life in many ways.

In fact, boron has an incredible range of properties and uses that make it interesting to us humans:

  • It’s an essential micronutrient for plants

  • It improves the performance of cleaning products

  • It captures neutrons, making nuclear reactors safer

  • It absorbs infrared light, useful for energy efficiency

  • Boron limits growth of bacteria and fungi on wood products

  • It helps balance acidity and alkalinity

  • Boron makes glass resistant to heat or chemicals

  • Boron prevents corrosion in many settings

  • It can be used to make advanced materials

  • It can be used in materials and coatings to suppress flames

  • Boron can be added to steel or aluminum, or used in super-magnets

  • It can link alcohols and carbohydrates together in oil recovery

As a result of this vast array of applications, boron is used in everything from smartphone screens to fertilizer.

Small amounts of boron sit in the walls and ceiling of your home, your kitchen, your bathroom and your driveway—and it’s even in a lot of food since it is an essential micronutrient for plants.

Future megatrends

There are three megatrends that are driving future boron consumption: urbanization, energy and agriculture.

Urbanization

By 2025, China will have 221 cities with over one million people. Boron is heavily used in cities and buildings in applications such as glazed ceramics, LCD televisions and electronics, appliances, and textile fiberglass.

Agriculture

Because boron helps regulate the reproductive cycle of plants, it is needed to help maximize food production for a growing population. In India, the use of boron and other micronutrients is being supported by government projects and subsidies to ensure that farmers increase productivity.

Energy

Boron is also used in energy-saving applications such as insulation, which will be key as green building practices are encouraged throughout the world. Borates are also used to create the high-powered magnets in applications like wind turbines, making them even more important for a green future.

(Interested in more infographics that explain our world? Visual Capitalist has launched a Kickstarter funding campaign for its first book.)

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

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