Lead monoxide is an inorganic and toxic compound compound that has two forms: litharge and massicot. Litharge has a tetragonal crystal structure, while massicot has an orthorombic lattice format. This substance is usually yellow in color, but can also come in a yellow-reddish hue. Lead monoxide is popularly applied in the manufacture of ceramics and glass, electronics, plastic and rubber, and paint.
One way to obtain lead monoxide is by melting lead metal and grinding it into tablet-form. Afterwards, the ground lead is oxidized in air at a temperature of 600°C or higher. Thus, the result below is achieved:
2Pb + O2 → 2PbO
Lead monoxide can also be formed through thermal decomposition of lead (II) nitrate and lead (II) carbonate via the following reaction:
2Pb(NO3)2 → 2PbO + 4NO2 + O2
PbCO3 → PbO + CO2
For large scale production of lead monoxide, it is usually obtained as an intermediate product in the refining of raw lead ores (commonly galena or lead (II) sulfide) into lead metal. The reaction temperature occurs at 1000°C or higher where the sulfide converts to oxide as seen in the reaction below:
2PbS + 3O2 → 2PbO + 2SO2
Glass and Ceramics Industry
There are different advantages why lead monoxide is added to glass products. It increases the refractive index, electrical resistivity, and the ability of the glass to absorb X-rays while also decreasing the viscosity of the glass. For manufacture of ceramics, lead monoxide makes the material more magnetically and electrically inert. In the manufacture of household ceramics, it is used as a glaze
Lead monoxide is used in the manufacturing of electronic components such as capacitors, electrophotographic plates, transducers, and ferrimagnetic and ferromagnetic materials
Automobiles require a lead-acid battery in order for them to function. An essential component in the manufacture of lead-acid batteries is lead monoxide.
Plastics and Rubber Industry
Lead monoxide is added to rubber products to make it radiation-resistant. Aside from this, it is also used to manufacture PVS plastic stabilizer. It can be added as a filler or coloring agent to rubber products.
Lead monoxide can be used as a pigment and paint drier.