What element can be found in a hard metal format used in the formation of stainless steel, found in plants and animals, and used as a trace mineral in dietary supplementation? It is chromium. Chromium comes in seven different compounds. If you refer to the periodic table it will be found in group 6 with the transition metals.
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Without going through all of the components, we will provide a basic overview of chromium. Metal chromium has a steel-gray colouring with a high melting point. It is magnetic, odourless, tasteless, and pliable and is used mainly in alloy and steel productions.
Various Compounds For Various Uses of Chromium
Chromium in its various compounds is used for:
- Making a mixture of metals
- Making alloys
- Brick lining of high-temperature industrial furnaces
- Chrome plating
- Leather tanning
- Wood preserving
- Manufacturing of dyes and pigments
- Inhibiting rust and corrosion
- Toner in copying machines
- Production of polyethylene by being a catalyst
- Manufacture of magnetic tape used in audio cassettes
- Electroplating plumbing fixtures, furniture parts and coating on car parts
Biological Uses of Chromium
Chromium is an essential nutrient helping the body use sugar, protein and fat. It is found in small quantities in whole grains, processed meats, cheese, brewer’s yeast and calf liver. As it enables the hormone insulin to function properly, it is now being used in the treatment of diabetes as well as a dietary supplement.
As there is little information on the safety of chromium and limited studies on its effects on the body, it is recommended that supplements should only be taken under the direction of a doctor and to err on the side of caution.
According to Wikipedia the largest producers of chromium ore
have been South Africa (44%) India (18%), Kazakhstan (16%) Zimbabwe (5%), Finland (4%) Iran (4%) and Brazil (2%) with several other countries producing less than 10% of the world production.
With an approximate US $2.5billion market value and the numerous uses of chromium, makes it one of the most sought after chemical elements on earth.
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Image courtesy of Wikipedia.