Applications and History of Albite in Glass and Ceramics

Albite is an aluminosilicate mineral containing potassium and sodium with a frame-like crystal structure composed of silicon-oxygen tetrahedra. The main components are SiO2, Al2O3, Na2O, CaO, etc. The chemical composition of albite (Na2O·Al2O3·6SiO2): Na2O11.8%, Al2O319.5%, SiO268.8%. It is difficult for the albite mineral in nature to reach its theoretical value. The closer the chemical composition of albite is to its theoretical value, the purer and better the quality of the feldspar.

Feldspar is used in different glass industries including float glass, container glass, fiberglass, opal glass, flat glass, electrical glass and glass tableware. Sodium feldspar is one of the main components of glass mixture. Feldspar contains high alumina and low iron content, which can reduce the amount of alkali. It is low in silica and contains no free quartz.

Albite is also used in pottery because it melts gradually at different temperatures, making it easier to melt the clay. It also increases the strength, hardness and durability of the ceramic body.

By 1930, feldspar had found its way into glass containers, where it enhanced the gloss of the bottle and extended the working temperature of the glass. Eventually, feldspar was used by manufacturers of flat glass, and the glass industry replaced ceramics as the major consumer of feldspar. In 1935, the glass industry consumed more than half of the total feldspar production. It also has a favorable 2:1 ratio of sodium oxide to potassium oxide. Nepheline syenite imparts lower viscosity and easier processing properties to glass batches than potassium feldspar. This makes it ideal for glassmaking. In glass batches, alumina acts as a stabilizer matrix, improving the processability of molten glass and increasing its scratch and chip resistance and chemical protection. The base acts as a flux, lowering the melting temperature of the batch, thereby reducing the amount of expensive soda ash that must be added. Growing demand for glass used in the production of solar cells is expected to drive the industry.

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