Lime, one of man's oldest and most vital chemicals, is often confused with limestone, from which it is derived.
Farmers often refer to 'liming' soils, but chances are they are using crushed limestone, not (quicklime or hydrated lime).
Quicklime (calcium oxide) is manufactured by calcining high quality limestone at elevated temperature, volatizing nearly half the stone's weight as carbon dioxide. Hydrated Lime (calcium hydroxide), in turn, is produced by reacting quicklime with sufficient water to produce a lime putty or powdered hydrated lime.
Limestone Chemistry
limestone + heat = calcium oxide + carbon dioxide
CaCo3 + 1000° = Ca O + CO2
Quicklime Chemistry
quicklime + water = calcium hydroxide + heat
Ca O + H2O = Ca(OH)2 + CO2
The above lime types are described as being of the high calcium variety. The quicklime and hydrated lime derived from Dolomite will contain magnesium as well as cacium compounds.
Lime serves as a flux for removing impurities ( silica, phosphorous, and sulphur) in refining steel.
In non ferrous metallurgy, lime is used to beneficiate copper ore, make alumina and magnesium manufacture, extract uranium and recover gold, silver etc. The chemical industry requires lime to make such chemicals as sodium alkalies, calcium carbide, calcium hypochlorite, citric acid,petrochemicals etc. The paper industry uses lime as a causticizing agent and for bleaching.
In construction, lime's traditional use in mortar and plaster still flourishes; however its, largest constructiom use is in soil stabilisation for roads, airfields, building foundations earth dams etc., where it upgrades low quality clay soils into satisfactory base and sub-base materials.
Lime is non toxic to workers in lime manufacturing or lime consuming plants. Indeed, after steelmaking lime's greatest use is for environment clean up of water, waste water, air and solid wastes.
The largest environmental use is potable water softening and clarification. Of all water treatment chemicals, lime enjoys the greatest tonnage.
In waste water treatment of sewerage effluents, lime removes phosphorous and nitrogen, aids clarification, kills bacteria; neutralizes acid mine and industrial wastewater discharges; absorbs and neutralizes sulphur oxides from industrial stack gases, beneficiating air quality; stabilizes sludges (solid wastes) from sewerage and desulphurization plants for safe land disposal or for utilisation in farming or construction... and other uses.
This basic chemical, is materially aiding mankind in its environment clean up.

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