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Lime is one of those usually unseen products that has a profound effect on our daily lives. It is used in many important industrial processes including steel, glass and paper manufacture, in building and civil engineering, in the water and food industries, in agriculture and in many environmental protection applications, to name just a few!

MPA Lime is committed to supporting the UK industrial lime sector interests in technical, promotional and any other matters of concern to the industry, as well as broadening the awareness of lime products and industrial lime. Often the term lime is used to refer to different types of lime which have very different characteristics, so it is always worth bearing in mind to know what is being referred to as lime.  

Industrial lime is produced from limestone and chalk rocks which are abundant across the world, including in the UK. There is evidence of lime production and use for a variety of applications across Millenia and around the world.  Since the industrial revolution, there has been a significant expansion in the applications for industrial lime, which is specifically made from higher purity limestones and chalks to provide the required characteristics for industrial applications. In addition, there is a form of limestone known as dolomitic limestone which can be used to make industrial dolomitic lime products that are used mainly in the refractories and metals manufacturing processes.

How is industrial mineral lime made?

Quicklime (calcium oxide) is created by heating limestone or chalk (calcium carbonate) in a kiln to temperatures of over 900 deg C. This process releases carbon dioxide and is known as Calcination.

Hydrated or slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) is produced when water is added. The water reacts with the quicklime, giving off heat, to form calcium hydroxide. This operation is called Hydrating.

Dolomitic lime manufacture is similar, though starts with dolomitic limestone (calcium magnesium carbonate) and requires higher temperatures and slightly different processing to produce dolime products.

It is possible to make numerous different variations of these "lime" products based around these simple chemical reactions and production processes. It is the chemistry and characteristics of the lime products and the control of the variations in production, that allows industrial lime products to be used successfully in such a vast number of very different applications.  In some applications, the hydrated lime product can re-absorb carbon dioxide in a process known as carbonation and whilst not all of the released carbon dioxide is re-absorbed, the carbonation of the lime can be beneficial to the application as well as to the environment.

As the production of lime releases carbon dioxide, the impacts of this on the environment are now well understood. MPA Lime and its members are committed to addressing these inevitable process emissions through working with others to enable technological developments, including carbon capture, utilisation and storage.  The UK lime sector is continuing to reduce the combustion and secondary emissions from the product manufacturing and supply activities, which can also release carbon dioxide.  The lime product carbonation is also being recognised as an important aspect and the potential contribution towards reduction of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Please visit the MPA Lime website for further information.