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The importance of lime

The lime (also the dolomite) is, after the soda, the second industrial strong chemical base. In all those processes where it is necessary to neutralize, to precipitate and also to protect the environment, the lime constitutes a solution. Being a very old product, manufactured with the advances of a more and more elaborated technique, the lime possesses a very important characteristic: its polyvalence. From the commercial point of view, the polyvalence is translated in the possibility that the lime can be used in very diversified markets, what avoids that it is subjected to the influence of only one or two economy sectors.

The lime's market

The lime's most important application, the one representing the highest market percentage, is steelmaking. In this industrial sector, the lime is used to dephosphorize and desulfurize the steel. So important are those functions that no steel type can be manufactured without lime. It's application is fundamental to dephosphorize the raw materials, both in the converter and in the electric furnace. The consumption of lime in steel stands for approximately between 40 and 55% of the percentage of sales of a lime's factory. No lime factory worth its name can exist without a steelmaking customer.

Other important applications of lime are:

  • In agriculture as a soil improving agent, in order to neutralize the phosphorous (pH) of the soils.
  • As a construction material.
  • Treatment of non ferrous minerals, use of lime in the industry of the aluminum, being the most important of all.
  • Treatments of diverse liquid or gaseous effluents: sewage, industrial acids, desulfurization of the atmosphere, inertization of urban and industrial wastes, etc. In what refers to the dolomitic lime, its use is fundamental in the steel industry and in the production of refractories, and also like agricultural soil improving agent. From the commercial point of view, the lime, being such an old product has a quite stable market; however, its great reactivity, like strong chemical base, may open new markets in the future that will depend fundamentally on the strict application of protecting measures of the environment: for example, the purification of gaseous effluents in thermal centrals (desulfurization of the atmosphere), inertization of urban or industrial solid residuals, treatment (correction of the pH or neutralization) of different urban or industrial liquid residuals. All those new applications could expand the traditional market of the lime and compensate in certain measure the reduction of consumption in steel applications as consequence of the improved yield of the processes, in certain measure compensated by the increase of productivity.

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