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Understanding Zinc’s Role in a Low-Carbon Economy
When asked to describe how the metal zinc is used, people often mention vitamins, sunscreen, or metal coating.
But few are aware of zinc’s applications in transportation, infrastructure, electronics, food security, and renewable energy.
This graphic by Teck shows how zinc is playing a key role in the low carbon economy.
Zinc, the Versatile Metal
Zinc is one of the most versatile and essential materials known to mankind. It is the fourth most used metal in the world behind iron, aluminum, and copper.
The primary use of zinc is in the galvanizing process, which protects iron and steel from rusting. Zinc coatings play a key role in public transportation and infrastructure by extending the life of steel used in bridge rails and support beams, railway tracks, and public transportation hubs and terminals.
Additionally, zinc can be alloyed with other metals and used for die-casting into shapes such as door handles, alloyed with copper to make brass, and alloyed with copper and sometimes other metals to make some types of bronze, like architectural bronze or commercial bronze.
Furthermore, zinc also has applications in energy storage. Zinc-carbon batteries were the first commercial dry batteries, providing a higher energy density at a lower cost than previously available cells.
Due to its growing role in energy storage and its superior ability to protect metals against corrosion, zinc remains an essential material for the future.