Boron Terminology


In the literature, there is no available classification for boron minerals and product groups obtained from them.   Sources on boron production and consumption and their trade on global scale are very scarce. Among them, the major source is ROSKILL INFORMATION SERVICES Ltd.   The boron reports issued every three year by the company classify boron reserve formations as boron minerals, borates that are enriched boron ores, refined products, boron compounds and boron products.   Different sections of the report discuss Natural Borates and Refined Borates definitions, where        

Natural Borates are used to define concentrated boron ores such as;

  • tincal,
  • colemanite, and
  • ulexite,

Refined Borates  

are used to define the following products obtained by refinement or chemical reaction of natural borates:

  • borax pentahydrate,
  • borax decahydrate,
  • anhydrous borax,
  • boric acid,
  • sodium perborate,

   Other products classified under the third group in the report are defined as;

Speciality Boron Chemicals.

  • Elemental Boron
  • Boron carbide
  • Boron Halides
  • Inorganic Borates
  • Fluoborates
  • Boric acid esters
  • Borohydrides
  • Organoboron compounds
  • Boron-nitrogen compounds

In addition, examples to Specialty Boron Products are listed in a table showing the fields of application for these products.

  • Sodium borohydride
  • Zinc borate
  • Boron trichloride
  • Boron trifluoride
  • Trimethyl borate
  • Special sodium borates
  •  Fluoboric acid

Apart from these, there is no specific definition matching the boron end product or advanced boron product definition that is used in our country from time to time.  Such definition in our country also covers fibreglass besides boron carbide, boron nitride, zinc borate, etc. However, as the report reveals, fibreglass for insulation or textile use represents a field of consumption covered by the application of boron minerals or products.   Another detailed report elaborated on boron products is Chemical Economics Handbook published by Stanford Research Institute (SRI).   In this report boron products are classified as Primary Boron Chemicals and Derived Boron Chemicals.     

Primary Boron Chemicals

  • Sodium borates
  • Calcium borates
  • Anhydrous borax, borax obtained from lakes
  • Anhydrous boric acid, orthoboric acid obtained from lakes with low concentration

Boron Derivatives are classified as

  • Elemental boron
  • Boron halides
  • Inorganic borates
  • Fluoborates
  • Boric acid esters
  • Refractory boron compounds
    • Boron hydrides
    • Boranes
    • Organoboron compounds

Another source on boron is United States Geological Survey publications. In these publications, similar to the Roskill report, boron products are classified as boron minerals and boron compounds 

Refined boron products are classified as:

  • Sodium borates, and
  • Boric acid.  

US Borax uses the definition Refined Boron Product for its products such as sodium borate and boric acid, and refer to the products in its whole product portfolio as borates.  

IMC, the second biggest producer in USA, uses the term "boron product for the following products:

  • Boric acid
  • Borax pentahydrate
  • Anhydrous borax, and
  • Borax dehydrate
  • Zinc borate
  • and use the term "speciality boron product" for the following products:
    Ammonium pentaborate
  • Potassium  pentaborate
  • Special boric acids
  • Special borax decahydrate
  • Disodium octaborate tetrahydate

Summarizing the classification offered by these sources, the following terminology would be appropriate:

  • Boron Mineral Reserves to refer to reserves,
  • Raw Boron Products to refer to concentrated ore products,
  • Refined Boron Products to refer to borax pentahydrate, borax decahydrate, anhydrous borax, sodium perborate, boric acid and anhydrous boric acid, which are produced as primary products by refinement of concentrated ores or reaction,
  • Special Boron Products to refer to when zinc borate, sodium borhydride, boron carbide, boron nitride, disodium octaborate tetrahydate, ammonium pentaborate, and boranes, which are produced from refine boron products,
  • Industry Boron-Added Products or Boron-Based Industry Products to refer to products such as textile/isolation type fiberglass, borosilicate glasses, glaze, glazed soap and detergent.

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