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Further reading - disclaimer Marching Ahead - Borates Look to High-priced Future – Asian Ceramics.
It is difficult to comprehend the variety of uses of boron in construction, manufacturing, medicine, science, microelectronics, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, space travel, communication satellites, specialty metals, battery technology and more! We could not survive without the element boron. It is found all around us and we are in constant contact with this vital element – even though we are, for the most part, not aware of it. Interestingly, economic occurrences of Boron are quite rare and large economic deposits exist in only a few places.
Some common applications of boron include glass production, insulation, fertilizer, silicon, metallurgy, LCD screens, stealth technology, sports equipment, nuclear reactors and waste storage, lithium batteries, computers, heat shields and medicines. Boron can also be found in automotive products like motor oil, brake fluid, steering fluid and antifreeze.
The number of items that contain boron in homes is surprising. Roofing materials, wallboard, paint, fiberglass insulation and cellulose insulation all contain boron. When used as a treatment for construction materials such as wood, plastic, bricks, pipes and wires, boron helps to protect from mold, fungus and insects. Boron is found in the ceramic tiles on the floors, in the porcelain enamel used on your sink, refrigerators, pots and pans. Boron is also in heat resistant cookware, crystal glass and dishwasher detergent. Boron is also found in soap, shampoo, creams, lotions, makeup, shaving cream, lens solution, hair products (dye, straighteners, perms etc.) and even tooth and denture products. Sheets, bed coverings and clothing contain boron that improves fibre performance. Boron is also used in detergents, laundry boosters and bleaches.
All plant life requires boron to grow. Boron is key to the flowering, pollen, seed and fruit development and germination itself. It also plays a major part in the production of sugar and carbohydrates within leaves and roots. Fertilizers also contain boron. It would not be possible to grow many crops, especially in areas where the natural occurrence of boron is low, without the addition of boron.
Source: US Geological Survey, Report on Boron - 2010 (with 2011 update).
Source Industrial Minerals Online. June 2011