Selenium And Its Uses.


China continued to use selenium as a fertilizer supplement and as an ingredient in glassmaking, and selenium dioxide as a substitute for sulfur dioxide in the manganese refining process. It is believed that consumption of selenium in China declined in 2005 and in the first quarter of 2006. Some of China’s manganese refineries closed owing to higher selenium and electricity costs. The price of selenium dropped significantly during 2006 because of a decline in global consumption.

Domestic use of selenium in glass remained unchanged, while its use in copiers continued to decline. The use of selenium as a substitute for lead in free-machining brasses continued to increase as more stringent regulations on the use of lead were implemented. The use of selenium in fertilizers and supplements in the plant-animal-human food chain and as human vitamin supplements increased as its health benefits were documented. Although small amounts of selenium are considered beneficial, it can be hazardous in larger quantities.

World Resources: The reserve base for selenium is based on identified copper deposits. Coal generally contains between 0.5 and 12 parts per million of selenium, or about 80 to 90 times the average for copper deposits. The recovery of selenium from coal, although technically feasible, does not appear likely in the foreseeable future. A recent assessment of U.S. copper resources indicated that total copper resources in identified and undiscovered resources totals about 550 million metric tons, almost 8 times the estimated U.S. copper reserve base.

Substitutes: High-purity silicon has replaced selenium in high-voltage rectifiers. Silicon is also the major substitute for selenium in low- and medium-voltage rectifiers and solar photovoltaic cells. Amorphous silicon and organic photoreceptors are substitutes in plain paper photocopiers. Organic pigments have been developed as substitutes for cadmium sulfoselenide pigments. Other substitutes include cerium oxide as either a colorant or decolorant in glass; tellurium in pigments and rubber; bismuth, lead, and tellurium in free-machining alloys; and bismuth and tellurium in lead-free brasses. Sulfur dioxide can be used as a replacement for selenium dioxide in the production of electrolytic manganese metal.

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