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Lead oxide, a range of products that is formed by the oxidation of Lead in the forms of liquid and solid. Lead oxides are basically an oxide’s family varying in color (grey/green, red, and yellow), in degree of oxidation (PbO, Pb3O4, PbO2) and in crystal structure (in forms of PbO, orthogonal and tetragonal). Lead oxide is a term that can be either Lead monoxide or litharge Lead tetroxide or Red Lead or Gray or Black oxide which is a mixture of 30 percent metallic Lead and 70 percent Lead monoxide. Black Lead is made for specific use in Lead acid storage batteries manufacturing. Due to large use in the Lead acid battery industry, Lead monoxide is one of the most important compounds of Lead, based on volume. Due to its electrical and electronic properties, litharge is also used in various components for different types of use like capacitors, electro photographic plates, and Video tubes, even in ferromagnetic and ferroelectric materials. Their wide range of chemical and physical properties, Lead oxides have been know and used worldwide since before the ancient Romans.
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The followings are the main applications for Lead oxides in current use:
Lead oxide in batteries: This is the most dominant application for Lead oxide. Oxide for battery applications can be further classified into three major types of battery.
SLI (starting, lighting, and ignition): Every vehicle that having a Lead-acid battery uses 5-10 kg of Lead oxide in its production. This represents a vast uses of Lead oxide on a worldwide basis.
Traction batteries: These types of batteries are designed for multiple charge-discharge cycles and tend to use red Lead (Pb3O4) oxide in their production. These are used to power all manner of electrical vehicles like fork lift trucks, golf carts, milk floats, etc.
Stationary batteries: These are batteries required for stand-by power applications in case of mains supply failure in hospitals, computer installations, telecoms networks, etc. Again, red Lead (Pb3O4) oxide is common in these units.
“Most of the Lead used in batteries is recycled through an effective collection and recycling network. The vast amount of this Lead is refined and returned to the battery production process.”
Lead oxide as pigments: The major Lead pigment is red Lead (Pb3O4), which is used principally in ferrous metal protective paints Litharge -a bright yellow form of Lead monoxide still finds applications in the production of yellow pigments.
Lead oxide in glass: Leaded glass crystal can contain 24-28% of Lead oxide which enhances clarity and density. The overall average of television tube contains 5- 8 kg of Lead oxide to absorb harmful radiation. Optical fibers also rely on Lead oxide to enhance the refractive index. Lead oxides are also used in special optical glasses, x-ray protection glasses, etc.
Lead oxide in ceramics: Lead oxides have been used in glazes and enamels since antiquity. Lead oxide enhances the thermal, color and wears properties of such coatings.
Lead oxide in PVC: Lead oxide is used as Lead stabilisers in PVC processing. The Lead stabilisers improve the thermal stability of PVC, allowing high temperature processing as well as improving the electrical and UV resistance properties. Common PVC applications are in window profiles, cable sheathing, pipe work, and ducting.
It also has important markets in the production of many Lead chemicals, dry colors, soaps.