Molecule of the Week

Barium sulfate

January 21, 2008

Barium sulfate (BaSO4), also known as barite, is a dense (4.48 g/cm3), insoluble salt that has many uses. Almost all barite (98%) is used as a densifying additive to oil well drilling fluids, or “muds”, which are used to seal the space around the drill bit. The mud also flushes out chippings and cools and lubricates the bit. High-density muds are necessary for drilling into deep formations to counteract high gas pressures. BaSO4 also has multiple uses in X-ray imaging, paint pigments, fireworks, and brake linings.

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