One of the most prevalent minerals on the earth’s surface, titanium dioxide, has been used as a pigment for more than a century. It was first used as a pigment in the creation of white paint after being discovered in the late 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, a variety of items, including rubber, textiles, and cosmetics, were being produced using titanium dioxide as a pigment due to its quick rise in popularity.
Now, let us understand how exactly titanium dioxide is utilised and how important it is for different industries.
Titanium dioxide, also known as TiO2, is a white, flavourless, and odourless powder that is frequently used in industrial and consumer products as a pigment, brightener, and photocatalyst. Due to its great opacity, brightness, and capacity to lend a smooth, creamy texture to a variety of materials, including paints, plastics, paper, and ceramics, titanium dioxide is known as the “workhorse” of pigments.
The characteristics of titanium dioxide have been widely recognised in many industrial sectors, driving its demand for applications, such as the elimination of organic pollutants and the manufacture of self-cleaning glass. The use of TiO2’s photocatalytic characteristics for surface, air, and water disinfection is gaining popularity.
The titanium dioxide market has been growing steadily owing to multiple factors. One of them is the photocatalytic activity of titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide can transform organic materials, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants, into less hazardous chemicals when exposed to light. This has boosted its utilisation in different applications, such as water purification systems, self-cleaning windows, and air purifiers.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a versatile and widely used material that has many applications in various industries. Here are some of the most well-known uses of TiO2:
Pigment: TiO2, being a white, bright, and opaque substance, is typically used as a pigment in a variety of products, including paints, coatings, plastics, papers, inks, and cosmetics. Titanium dioxide imparts a white, opaque colour that helps to hide the substrate, lending a bright appearance to the product.
Sunscreen: Titanium dioxide is commonly used in sunscreens as a physical blocker of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. TiO2 particles scatter and absorb UV light, providing effective protection against sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer.
Colourant: Titanium dioxide pigment is frequently used as a colourant in many foods, such as confectionery, baked goods, and dairy products. Owing to its bright white characteristic, it is also used in products such as paper, inks, toothpaste, and face powder to make the product brighter and whiter, and it is also a widely used substance in the paints and coatings market.
Electronics: Electronic devices widely employ titanium dioxide as a conductor, particularly in the production of photovoltaic cells. This is due to its good electrical conductivity, which makes it an ideal material for use in electronic devices.
Despite titanium dioxide providing multiple advantages, there are questions concerning its safety. Based on evidence from animal studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as a potential carcinogen. There is also some evidence showing that if ingested, TiO2 does not completely exit our body, exposing organs to damage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has emphasised the need for a more thorough study to fully understand the possible health concerns linked to exposure to titanium dioxide as the information available from human studies is insufficient.
Numerous producers have started searching for substitute chemicals for titanium dioxide to address the rising concerns about the chemical. For instance, several businesses are investigating the use of iron oxide pigments, which resemble titanium dioxide in terms of optical characteristics but do not raise the same safety issues.
Other businesses are investigating the use of naturally occurring mineral pigments, such as kaolin clay, which can produce brightness and opacity similar to titanium dioxide without the corresponding health hazards.
Despite these initiatives, titanium dioxide continues to be one of the most commonly used pigments globally. It is an important component in a variety of goods, from paints and plastics to sunscreen and air purifiers, thanks to its distinctive mix of brightness, opacity, and photocatalytic activity.
It is expected that the industry will keep looking at substitute components and technologies that might offer comparable advantages without the accompanying dangers, as research on the possible health problems connected with exposure to titanium dioxide continues.
In a nutshell, we can say that titanium dioxide is a versatile and widely used material offering a variety of advantages that make it suitable for various goods and end industries. Its unique characteristics make it a substance that will continue to be an essential component in a variety of applications for the years to come.