Most of the products we use every day are made with Feldspar, the most abundant group of minerals in the earth’s crust.
Feldspars have both alkali and alumina content which makes them particularly valuable in industrial processes. Feldspars play an important role as fluxing agents in ceramics and glass production, and are also used as functional fillers in the paint, plastic, rubber and adhesive industries.
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Feldspar is by far the most abundant group of minerals in the earth's crust, forming about 60% of terrestrial rocks. Most European deposits offer potassium feldspar as well as sodium feldspar and mixed feldspars. Feldspars are primarily used in industrial applications for their alumina and alkali content.
The term feldspar encompasses a whole range of materials. Most of the products we use on a daily basis are made with feldspar: glass for drinking, glass for protection, glass wool for insulation, the floor tiles and shower basin in our bathroom, the tableware from which we eat, … Feldspar is part of our daily life.
Feldspar minerals are essential components in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, to such an extent that the classification of a number of rocks is based on feldspar content. The mineralogical composition of most feldspars can be expressed in terms of the ternary system Orthoclase (KAlSi3O8), Albite (NaAlSi3O8) and Anorthite (CaAl2Si2O8).
Chemically, the feldspars are silicates of aluminium, containing sodium, potassium, iron, calcium, or barium or combinations of these elements. The minerals of which the composition is comprised between Albite and Anorthite are known as the plagioclase feldspars, while those comprised between Albite and Orthoclase are called the alkali feldspars. The latter category is of particular interest in terms of industrial use of feldspars.
Amongst the numerous rocks in which they are present, feldspars are particularly abundant in igneous rocks like granite, which contains up to 50 or 70% of alkaline feldspar. Granite is however rarely used for its feldspatic content. Rather a whole range of rocks geologically connected to granite is used. Most often, commercial feldspar is mined from pegmatite or feldspatic sand deposits. Aplite, which is Feldspar a fine-grained igneous rock with the same mineralogical composition as granite is also frequently mined for its feldspar content.
Basically, the two properties which make feldspars useful for downstream industries are their alkali and alumina content. On those elements we can distinguish three families: Feldspatic sand, Pegmatite and Feldspar. A further distinction can be made between sodium, potassium and mixed feldspars, depending on the type of alkali they contain.
MAIN APPLICATIONS INCLUDE
- Wall & floor tiles
- Container glass
- Flat glass