The compound is a naturally occurring oxide of titanium. It is also known as titanium(IV) oxide, rutile or titania and is typically sourced from ilmenite, rutile, and anatase. It occurs in crystalline forms as an odourless white powder which is tasteless. It is also insoluble in water and organic solvents.
The chemical is produced in two main forms. The main form is pigment-grade titanium dioxide and it comprises of approximately 98% of titanium dioxide that is produced globally. This form makes use of the compound’s excellent light-scattering properties for use where white opacity and brightness is required. The other form is ultrafine (nanomaterial) product. It is selected when properties such as transparency and maximum ultraviolet light absorption, are required. An example of such use is in cosmetic sunscreens.
Some of the areas of application of titanium dioxide include:
- It is used as a shrinking agent for glass fibres.
- It is used as a pigment in roofing to help the painted surface.
- It is used as a pigment in coated fabrics to help minimize fading and cracking.
- It is used as a semi-conductor and pigment in electronics such as capacitors.
- It is applied as a clouding agent for incorporation in dry beverage mixes, in tobacco wrapping and tobacco substitute.
- It is used in some cosmetics to aid in hiding blemishes and brightening to skin.
- It is produced artificially as a gemstone.
- It is used as a protectant in sunscreens.
- It is used as a white pigment in paints, plastics, and rubber to help ensure longevity, and to minimize brittleness, fading and cracking that occurs due to light exposure.
- It is used as a white pigment in paper to make it whiter, brighter and more opaque.
- It is used for welding-rod coating materials in its rutile form.
- It is used to protect food, beverages, supplements and pharmaceuticals from premature degradation.
- High purity pigment-grade titanium dioxide is used in capsule coatings, drug tablets, and as a decorative aid in some foods.
- Ultra-fine grades of titanium dioxide are used in the automotive industry to remove harmful exhaust gas emissions and in the removal of nitrous oxides in power stations.
- It is used as a dusting product.