Calcium Oxide - Quicklime
Calcium oxide is usually made by the thermal decomposition of materials, such as limestone or seashells, that contain calcium carbonate (CaCO3; mineral calcite) in a lime kiln. This is accomplished by heating the material to above 825 °C (1,517 °F), a process called calcination or lime-burning, to liberate a molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2), leaving quicklime.
CaCO3(s) → CaO(s) + CO2(g)
The quicklime is not stable and, when cooled, will spontaneously react with CO2 from the air until, after enough time, it will be completely converted back to calcium carbonate unless slaked with water to set as lime plaster or lime mortar.
Annual worldwide production of quicklime is around 283 million tonnes. China is by far the world's largest producer, with a total of around 170 million tonnes per year. The United States is the next largest, with around 20 million tonnes per year.
Approximately 1.8 t of limestone is required per 1.0 t of quicklime. Quicklime has a high affinity for water and is a more efficient desiccant than silica gel. The reaction of quicklime with water is associated with an increase in volume by a factor of at least 2.5.
The major use of quicklime is in the basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS) process. Its usage varies from about 30 to 50 kilograms (65–110 lb) per ton of steel. The quicklime neutralizes the acidic oxides, SiO2, Al2O3, and Fe2O3, to produce a basic molten slag.
Ground quicklime is used in the production of aerated concrete blocks, with densities of ca. 0.6–1.0 g/cm3 (9.8–16.4 g/cu in).
Quicklime and hydrated lime can considerably increase the load carrying capacity of clay-containing soils. They do this by reacting with finely divided silica and alumina to produce calcium silicates and aluminates, which possess cementing properties.
Small quantities of quicklime are used in other processes; e.g., the production of glass, calcium aluminate cement, and organic chemicals.
CaO (s) + H2O (l) ⇌ Ca(OH)2 (aq) (ΔHr = −63.7 kJ/mol of CaO)
As it hydrates, an exothermic reaction results and the solid puffs up. The hydrate can be reconverted to quicklime by removing the water by heating it to redness to reverse the hydration reaction. One litre of water combines with approximately 3.1 kilograms (6.8 lb) of quicklime to give calcium hydroxide plus 3.54 MJ of energy. This process can be used to provide a convenient portable source of heat, as for on-the-spot food warming in a self-heating can, cooking, and heating water without open flames. Several companies sell cooking kits using this heating method.
Light: When quicklime is heated to 2,400 °C (4,350 °F), it emits an intense glow. This form of illumination is known as a limelight, and was used broadly in theatrical productions before the invention of electric lighting.
Cement: Calcium oxide is a key ingredient for the process of making cement.
As a cheap and widely available alkali. About 50% of the total quicklime production is converted to calcium hydroxide before use. Both quick- and hydrated lime are used in the treatment of drinking water.
Petroleum industry: Water detection pastes contain a mix of calcium oxide and phenolphthalein. Should this paste come into contact with water in a fuel storage tank, the CaO reacts with the water to form calcium hydroxide. Calcium hydroxide has a high enough pH to turn the phenolphthalein a vivid purplish-pink color, thus indicating the presence of water.
Paper: Calcium oxide is used to regenerate sodium hydroxide from sodium carbonate in the chemical recovery at Kraft pulp mills.
Plaster: There is archeological evidence that Pre-Pottery Neolithic B humans used limestone-based plaster for flooring and other uses. Such Lime-ash floor remained in use until the late nineteenth century.
Mining: Compressed lime cartridges exploit the exothermic properties of quicklime to break rock. A shot hole is drilled into the rock in the usual way and a sealed cartridge of quicklime is placed within and tamped. A quantity of water is then injected into the cartridge and the resulting release of steam, together with the greater volume of the residual hydrated solid, breaks the rock apart. The method does not work if the rock is particularly hard.
Disposal of corpses: Historically, it was believed that quicklime was efficacious in accelerating the decomposition of corpses. This was quite mistaken, and the application of quicklime can even promote preservation; although it can help eradicate the stench of decomposition, which may have led people to suppose it was the actual flesh which had been consumed.