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Phosphorus is a key element in living organisms, particularly plants. It is essential for the metabolism of all aerobic organisms and it is used to produce organic compounds such as phosphates (compounds containing the phosphorus ion, PO43-), which are components of DNA and RNA and also of phospholipids in cells. Phosphorus is also an important raw material in the manufacture of fertilizers. Most of the phosphorus extracted from mines is consumed as fertiliser. It is also used in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, refractory and electronics, as well as in the production of phosphoric acid.
The present invention provides a method for refining ferro phosphorus. The method is characterised by forming a melt of unrefined metallurgical grade ferro phosphorus and allowing a layer of slag to form on the surface of the melt. The slag is then removed and the oxidised impurities that have migrated to the slag are recovered as refined ferrophosphorus. The oxidising agent may be added to the melt in liquid, solid or gaseous form.
Depending on the amount of slag that is removed, a low or high concentration of carbon may be contained in the final product. It is preferred that the carbon content is kept below about 0.5 weight percent of the refined ferrophosphorus. The treated ferrophosphorus can be used as an aggregate for heavy concretes. In this application, the resulting aggregates have superior properties in terms of density, strength and permeability. Alternatively, it can be used as an ingredient in epoxy zinc-rich priming paint or coatings and conductive paints to make them resistant to corrosion.