Gypsum: the "Magic" Mineral Indefinitely Recyclable


Gypsum is a rock like mineral commonly found in the earth’s crust, extracted, processed and used by Man in construction or decoration in the form of plaster and alabaster since 9000 B.C.. Plaster was discovered in Catal-Huyuk in Asia in an underground fresco, and in Israel Gypsum floor screeds were found from 7000 B.C. During the time of the Pharaohs, Gypsum was used as mortar in the construction of the Cheops Pyramid (3000 B.C.). In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, decorations and artistic creations were made of plaster. Since then, the range of construction-related uses have continued to multiply.

Gypsum can also:

  • Be added to some bread and dough mixes as a Calcium source and baking aid.
  • Be used as a filler and fire retardant in plastic products.
  • Be used in Portland cement and special cement products for set and expansion control.
  • Be a source of Calcium and Sulphate Sulphur for plant growth.
  • Be used as a modelling material for tooth restorations.
  • Be an ingredient in many patching compounds.
  • Be used with glass to fabricate large, lightweight architectural decorations.
  • Be used as a mould material to fabricate custom body parts for trucks and automobiles.
  • Be an aid in juice extraction of some fruits and vegetables

Gypsum is a sedimentary mineral. It is found in layers that were formed under salt water millions of years ago. The water evaporated and left the mineral. Gypsum is composed of calcium sulfate (CaSO4) and water (H2O), i.e. Calcium Sulphate Dihydrate (CaSO4.2H2O). In Europe, the principal Gypsum quarries are located in Germany, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine.

The main chemical substitute to natural Gypsum is FGD Gypsum(Flue Gas Desulphurisation Gypsum). It is generated by coal-fired power plants. FGD Gypsum is the end product of a wet purification procedure with natural lime that is generated according to the same laws as natural Gypsum – but in a speeded-up process taking only a few hours.

Gypsum is also an indefinitely recyclable raw material. You can always reuse Gypsum because the chemical composition of the raw material in the products remains unchanged. Gypsum products can furthermore be counted amongst the very few construction materials where “closed-loop” recycling is possible, i.e. where the waste is used to make the same product again