Silica sand is a granular material containing quartz and minerals in it. That is why it is known as quartz sand, but its applications have also given it the term ‘industrial sand’.
The quartz slowly converts into silica due to water and wind. Silica sand is comprised of silicon dioxide (SiO2) and quartz is the most common form of silicon dioxide. It is quite hard as a mineral and is scored 7 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. This property makes it an ideal mineral for filtration purposes and abrasive sandblasting.
Although quartz is commonly found in white colour, it can be available in a variety of shades, and it is determined by the types of minerals and rock debris present with it.
The silica sand market caters to various industrial and commercial applications. The use of silica depends on its characteristics like grain size, structure, colour, strength, and stability of the silica sand. Its favorable characteristics, including high melting point and low thermal expansion coefficient has made it a primary component for glass manufacturing.
- Glassmaking has utilized silica sand for all types of glass due to its clear and high grade of chemical purity. This sand is used for manufacturing various types of glasses, such as flat glass for automotive and building purposes, making container glass for food and beverages, it is utilized in fiberglass insulation as it helps in reinforcing glass fibers and is used for making test tubes and other tools for scientific applications.
- Sports fields such as golf courses use silica sand in the bunkers and greens on the course. They are widely used due to its ability to support drainage and natural plant growth. It has also found use in tennis courts and horse courts as it makes the field even and consistent for the ball and player while helping the player avoid slipping as silica prevents clogging of moisture.
- The silicon wafer reclaim market uses silica sand to create silicon wafers which are obtained through processing, stripping, polishing, and cleaning, this can also be reprocessed for a different application up to five times depending on the silicon removal rate.
- Water filtration is one of the most common applications of silica sand. It has been a popular material for filtration purposes due to its uniform shape and size, providing an effective bed for filtration and it is very consistent at removing contaminants from water. It also does not degrade when it comes into contact with acidic chemicals.
- Construction is also one of the major end-user sectors of silica sand as it is a primary component for various building and construction products. Flooring compounds, mortars, sealants, asphalt mixtures, cement, stucco, and roofing shingles, among other materials use silica sand to enhance durability and corrosion resistance which helps in maintaining the structural integrity.
- Silica sand is great for improving the look and durability of architectural and industrial paints. This effect can be attributed to silica sand’s properties such as brightness, colour consistency, reflectance, and low oil absorption rate which improves the paint’s finishing colour. Silica sand also improves tint retention and resistance against dirt, mildew, and weathering and cracking of the paint coating.
These properties of silica for maintaining the integrity of a product or structure have made this material an integral part of a wide range of applications.