Markets

The sodium silicates manufactured by IQE with molar ratios of between 2.9 and 3.3 (e.g. NASIL® 3.0) are an ideal solution as adhesives or binders for materials such as paper, wood by-products, metal sheets… These silicates offer the following advantages:

  • Excellent spraying and penetration
  • High bonding capacity
  • Controlled hardening speed
  • Rigid, strong and heat-resistant joints
  • Non-flammable

Nowadays, they are a lower-cost alternative to other products such as PVA and dextrins in the manufacture of corrugated board and cores.

Products destined for this market

Silicon is an essential trace element in numerous plants. One way of providing this product is by using soluble silicates. In the IQE product range we recommend the use of KSIL® 2.2 potassium silicate, which does not contribute sodium to the system. When used in low doses, it provides an added intake of soluble silica for a certain type of plant. This nutrient increases productivity in systems and also improves plant resistance to different diseases and pests.

Our product catalogue also offers other precipitated silicas that provide solutions for agriculture - the IBERSIL® and EBROSIL® series. Apart from its role as a source of soluble silicon, amorphous precipitated silica controls humidity in plants, offsetting variations in humidity. The presentation of our silicon as a very fine powder means that it can be used as a suspension, spray or for dry sprinkling. An added advantage is that in certain formulations, silica is an excellent grinding aid, a carrier for active principles, or a fluidifying agent in products with caking tendency.

The IBERSIL® range of precipitated silicas are mainly used in the animal feed and food industries, although they can also be used in other markets. They are excellent carriers of aromas, additives or liquid substances (vitamins and acids, among others) that are transformed into powdered products, with good fluidity and easy to dispense.

The narrow particle size distribution for each IBERSIL® product and their high absorption capacity make them excellent fluidifying and anti-caking agents for products such as salt, spices, soups and powdered cheese, sugar or other food supplements.

The IBERSIL® range of silicas are registered both for use in animal feeds and in human food.

Clay processing by deflocculation and wet grinding is a widely used procedure in the ceramic floor tile and wall tile industry.

Deflocculating additives reduce the viscosity of slips, making pumping easier and removing impurities, while also reducing the energy costs of drying processes.

IQE has supported this industry since the very start of industrial spraying processes. We produce and develop deflocculating additives for the ceramic industry based on their product line (alkaline silicates and metasilicates). At our R&D department, in close collaboration of our customers and after studying the raw material, water and ceramic paste in each case, we carry out an analysis of the deflocculation curves in order to optimise densities, amounts and type of deflocculant required and to advise on the best product for each application or develop a new specific product if necessary.

The different products that come under the DEFLOC® trade name are marketed in solid and liquid form and adapted to each type of application, bearing in mind different process variables (water, types of clay, etc.). With our DEFLOC® range we seek to work side by side with customers and offer industry-specific solutions: reduction of black heart or cuts in energy costs…. The products in the DEFLOC® and IBERSIL® series are also used in the manufacture of frits and ceramic colours as anti-caking agents, grinding aids and fluxes.

Wet-mix shotcrete, a technique used to build tunnels or for other civil works, requires the use of accelerating additives. For over a decade now IQE has supplied these accelerating products or the raw materials to produce them to leading companies in the additives for construction industry

IQE produces alkaline type set accelerators, based on sodium silicate, grouped under the trade name of NASIL®, or based on sodium aluminate, marketed under the trade name of ALNA®.

Over the last few years, IQE has developed a range of alkali-free set accelerators, both in solid form and in aqueous solution, grouped under the name of AKF. These products arise from the need to use environment and worker-friendly products. At the same time, they increase the durability and quality of concrete structures, compared with the use of alkaline accelerators that reduce the mechanical resistance of shotcrete.

Together with this series of set accelerators in aqueous solution, IQE produces powdered aluminium hydroxide, marketed as GELOXAL® 10. This product can be used both as a raw material for the manufacture of alkali-free set accelerators and as a powdered accelerator for the manufacture of special fast setting mortars.

Another raw material required to manufacture alkali-free accelerators is aluminium sulphate. This product, both in solid form and in aqueous solution, is produced at IQE under the trade name of SUFAL®.

The product, NASIL® 3.3, is used as a foundation and floor consolidating agent in buildings in combination with dibasic esters or sodium aluminate.

Many washing processes are carried out using detergents or soaps with formulations that include sodium or potassium silicates, sodium metasilicates, zeolites and zeolite compounds. The IQE group has a wide range of these products that it supplies as raw materials to different companies specialised in the manufacture of cleaning products.

Detergents are required for many important washing processes, such as: metal cleaning and degreasing, dishwashing, domestic or industrial clothes washing and floor cleaning.

In this sector, alkaline silicates and zeolites play a particularly important role due to their outstanding detersive properties, among which are, their capacity to precipitate/complex calcium and other cations, their alkalinity and pH buffer effect and the possibility of neutralising and saponifying fats and oils.

Sodium metasilicate is used as a metal degreasing agent or in the formulation of laundry detergents. Potassium silicate, KSIL®, is used in the formulation of toilet soap. ZEOLITE A and the zeolite-based compounds form the ecological builder of the majority of powdered detergents for domestic washing, replacing other phosphate-based builders (STPP). Our NASIL® sodium silicates are used as stabilisers in formulations of hydrogen peroxide-based bleaching products and in most detergents for washing clothes due to their alkaline effect and effect of protecting the metal elements in washing machines.

Precipitated silica has been used for a long time as a reinforcing agent in elastomers, especially natural and synthetic rubber. It belongs to the so-called group of white fillers, which allow rubber blends to be coloured, unlike the other usual filler - carbon black. Among the different white fillers, precipitated silica is the only one whose reinforcing capacity can compete with carbon black in enhancing properties.

For this application IQESIL has a wide range of suitable silicas. The EBROSIL® series offers different reinforcing effects - the greater the reinforcement, the better the mechanical properties but the poorer the processability of the end product will be, hence the product used can be adjusted to meet the requirements of each particular application.

All rubber products can use silica, but its main application is in coloured products with good mechanical properties, such as soles for shoes, rubber floors, hoses, etc. It is especially compatible with NBR, NR, SBR/BR and CR.

Different types of potassium silicate, KSIL®, and blends of potassium, lithium and sodium silicate are commonly used as binders/adhesives for the mass of fluxes for the typical rods used as welding electrodes. As an additive, it reduces the melting point and helps slag formation.

Products destined for this market

NASIL®/FUNSIL® sodium silicate is used in ferric and non-ferric metal die casting as an adhesive/binding agent in the manufacture of sand moulds according to the classic CO2 method. The silicate acts as a binder and favours the end of setting.

Products destined for this market

NASIL® sodium silicate is used in the process of separating ore from gangue by the flotation method. It acts as a coadjuvant in deflocculation, controlling and helping to separate the ore. It also prevents corrosion in grinding equipment.

The use of ALNA® for treating effluents generated in mining activities, especially Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), solves many environmental problems. It causes the precipitation of ettringite by removing sulfates (SAVMIN and CESR process).

Although it began as a minor application within its use as a reinforcing agent in elastomers, the use of precipitated silica in the manufacture of tyres has become increasingly important, not only in terms of volume but also due to its effect on fuel consumption and therefore on the environmental impact of our products. IQESIL offers precipitated silica within its EBROSIL® series.

The so-called “green tyres” that use silica as a filler instead of carbon black have considerable advantages over traditional tyres, not just with respect to safety (enhanced performance on wet roads or snow) but above all due to the fuel-saving aspect, providing potential savings of 3-5% in vehicle fuel consumption.

These advantages are due to the special structure of the silica used, compared to typical silicas, resulting in a much closer interaction with the polymeric matrix and better dispersion in the rubber.

NASIL® sodium silicate is present in recycled paper bleaching and de-inking processes and in the production of paper pulp. It is the main stabiliser of hydrogen peroxide which is used as an efficient and economical bleaching agent.

NASIL® 3.3 sodium silicate in solution is preferred for mechanical pulp bleaching operations and paper de-inking processes.

In de-inking processes NASIL® 3.3 helps separate the ink particles from the paper fibres and favours their suspension in the aqueous medium where the de-inking process takes place. At the same time, it keeps the alkaline pH constant during the entire de-inking process and prevents destabilisation of the hydrogen peroxide.

Sodium silicate is also used in paper pulp bleaching processes combined with hydrogen peroxide. In this process, the silicate precipitates the metal ions that catalyze the hydrogen peroxide decomposition process at the same time as they buffer the alkaline pH.

In the papermaking process based on mechanical pulp, especially newsprint, SODASIL®, the finely divided precipitated aluminium silicate produced at one of the IQE Group plants, is used as a white filler. This product confers a high degree of brightness and it also prevents blurring of print lines and increases the speed and quality of printing. IBERSIL® precipitated silica can also form part of some white filler blends.

The products, SUFAL® and ALNA® are used in sizing processes in the paper and pulp industries as inputs of aluminium. Their function is to precipitate and fix the sizing agents, improve retention and disperse resin particles, to achieve high quality papers.

The stabilised potassium silicate solutions produced by the IQE group are used as binders to produce mineral type silicate paints. Nowadays, this type of paint provides an excellent decorative and protective coating for buildings due to its interesting properties:

  • Long duration
  • Petrification
  • Excellent water vapour permeability
  • Low tendency to soiling

Furthermore, the IQE group offers the paint sector an outstanding extender for titanium dioxide. It is an aluminium and sodium silicate, SODASIL® P 95, which is extensively used in the manufacture of water-based emulsion paints. In a large number of formulations, it can replace up to 25% by weight of titanium dioxide, enhancing the brightness and opacity properties of the original paint.

Thermoplastic materials, although they do not need the mechanical effect of a filler like the elastomers, can also benefit from the presence of small quantities of mineral fillers. The synthetic products of the IQE Group provide very uniform properties and a high purity compared to other similar products.

IQESIL’s precipitated silica, EBROSIL® can be applied as an antiblocking agent, to prevent plastic from sticking together, both for films and chips, especially transparent products. It can also be applied as a surface texture modifying/matting agent in extruded products, both to reduce adhesion and to modify their appearance. Apart from this latter application of aluminium silicate, EBROSIL® SA60 provides opacity and the possibility of extending titanium dioxide in coloured systems.

GELOXAL® aluminium hydroxide, like other hydrated aluminium salts, has a flame-retardant effect and its amorphous nature and small size facilitate its addition and dispersion as well as providing similar advantages to those of silica systems.

NASIL® sodium silicate is commonly used in the textile sector in two different processes:

  • In fibre bleaching processes with hydrogen peroxide. The silicate keeps pH constant and precipitates the metals that catalyze the hydrogen peroxide destabilisation process.
  • In fibre and fabric dyeing processes. The silicate allows lower temperatures to be used at a constant pH and with less water. It also helps to obtain a more even colour between different batches as well as substantially improving colour fixing in fibres.

SUFAL® aluminium sulphate is extensively used in the leather tanning sector, in a process known as aluminium tanning. This process subjects leather to a salt bath at an acid pH, where the tanning Al mineral easily diffuses inside the leather, resulting in colourless tanning and providing firm leather.

The aluminium sulphate marketed under the trade name SUFAL® is the most commonly used coagulant in the treatment of drinking and waste water. The Al3+ cation has a high charge that produces the elimination of colloidal matter by coagulation. Coagulation efficiency is determined by the physical and chemical characteristics of the water to be treated.

The sodium aluminates manufactured at IQE under the ALNA® trade name are used as coagulants and flocculating agents at waste water treatment plants, using their high reactive alumina content. This process achieves the clarification and elimination of the colour and hardness of waste water. This product has a base pH, which is a property that distinguishes it from the rest of coagulants.

It is important to highlight its great dephosphating power in phosphorus elimination processes as well as it use to remove sulfates in water, via ettringite precipitation (SAVMIN and CESR process).

Dephosphatation: In the case of SUFAL® (aluminium sulfate) and ALNA® (sodium aluminate) products, thanks to the presence of Al3+, total phosphorus is removed to desirable and legally allowable levels, as well as preventing bulking and foaming problems.

In the treatment of water for human consumption, NASIL® sodium silicates have been recognized for their capacity to reduce the amount of lead, copper and other heavy metals dissolved in water. They act by inhibiting the corrosion process in pipes, by forming a microscopic film, maintaining the water pH constant at an approximate value of 8 so that metal dissolving processes are reduced to a minimum.