Thallium is a radioactive element. It is soft silvery-white metal that occurs naturally in small amounts in pyrite and other ores such as copper, lead, and zinc. Thallium metal and its compounds are highly toxic materials and are strictly controlled to prevent harm to humans and the environment. Thallium and its compounds can be absorbed into the human body by skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation of dust or fumes. Leading sources of thallium released into the environment are coal-burning power plants and smelters of copper, lead, and zinc ores. Ore processing sites and discharges from electronics, drugs, and glass factories are the major sources of thallium in drinking water.
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Global Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum contaminant level (two parts per billion) of thallium in water. Thallium is obtained commercially as a byproduct in the roasting of copper, lead, and zinc ores or is collected from flue dust in just a few countries. Global production of thallium was estimated to be less than 10 tons in 2018. Thallium materials are costly for the specialized uses such infrared detection and transmission purpose in optics.
Thallium exists primarily in association with potassium minerals in clays, granites, and soils. It is not generally considered to be commercially recoverable from potassium minerals forms. However, other materials and formulations can substitute for thallium in gamma radiation detection equipment. Nonpoisonous substitutes, such as tungsten compounds, are being marketed as substitutes for thallium in high-density liquids for sink-float separation of minerals.
Thallium Market: Segmentation
The global thallium market can be segmented based on type, application, and region. In terms of type, the thallium market can be classified into granular, rod, and others. The rod segment is projected to expand at a rapid pace during the forecast period. Rod type thallium occupies less volume. Its packaging is also easier than that of the granular type thallium and also it is easy for transportation. This is the major factor which is expected to drive the demand for thallium market during the forecast period.
Based on application, the global thallium market can be divided into optics, electronics, and chemical. Under the optics segment, thallium is used in lenses, prisms, and windows for infrared detection and transmission equipment. Thallium-arsenic-selenium crystal filters are used for light diffraction in acoustic optical measuring devices. Thallium is used in glass to increase its refractive index and density. Under the Electronics segment, sodium iodide crystal doped with thallium is used as activator in gamma radiation detection equipment. Thallium is alloying component with mercury used for low-temperature measurement. Thallium-barium-calcium-copper oxide high-temperature superconductors (HTS) are used in filters for wireless communications. Radioactive thallium is used for medical purposes in cardiovascular imaging. Thallium is also used as catalyst for organic compound synthesis and sink-float separation of minerals.
Thallium Market: Regional Outlook
In terms of region, the global thallium market can be segmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific is expected to be the leading region of the global thallium market during the forecast period. Kazakhstan and Taiwan are major producers of thallium, while India and China are the key consumers of thallium products such as optic cables & superconductors, transistors, and thermocouples. Due to which Asia Pacific is expected to remain dominant region during the forecast period.
Thallium Market: Key Players
The global thallium market is fragmented. Large numbers of companies operate at the global and regional level. Major companies include Kazzinc, China Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals, Umicore, JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corp, Sumitomo Metal Mining, ESPI Metals, Titan Group, Eastman, Strem Chemicals.