Application of fluorite
Used in production of hydrofluoric acid, which is used in the electroplating, stainless steel, refrigerant, and plastics industries, in production of aluminum fluoride, which is used in aluminum smelting, as a flux in ceramics and glass, and in steel furnaces, and in emery wheels, optics, and welding rods.
The majority of the United States’ annual consumption of fluorspar is for the production of hydrofluoric acid (HF) and aluminum fluoride (AlF3). HF is a key ingredient for the production of all organic and non-organic chemicals that contain the element fluorine. It is also used in the manufacture of uranium. AlF3 is used in the production of aluminum.
The remainder of fluorspar consumption is as a flux in making steel, glass, enamel, and other products. A flux is a substance that lowers the melting temperature of a material.
Sources of fluorite
The United States once produced large quantities of mineral fluorspar. However, the great fluorspar mines of the Illinois-Kentucky fluorite district are now closed. Today, the United States imports fluorspar from China, South Africa, Mexico, and other countries.
A small percentage of the fluorspar consumed in the United States is derived as a by-product of industrial processes. For instance, an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 tons of synthetic fluorspar is produced each year in the uranium enrichment process, the refining of petroleum, and in treating stainless steel. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) and other fluorides are recovered during the production of aluminum.
Brief introduction of fluorite
Fluorspar (fluorite) is calcium fluoride (CaF2). It is found in a variety of geologic environments. Fluorspar is found in granite (igneous rock), it fills cracks and holes in sandstone, and it is found in large deposits in limestone (sedimentary rock). Fluorspar is relatively soft, number 4 on Mohs’ scale of hardness.
Pure fluorspar is colorless, but a variety of impurities give fluorite a rainbow of different colors, including green, purple, blue, yellow, pink, brown, and black.Fluorite crystals can be well formed, beautiful and highly prized by collectors.Despite its beauty and physical properties, fluorspar is primarily valuable for its fluorine content.