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Tellurium’s major use is as an alloying additive in steel to improve machining characteristics. It is also used as a minor additive in copper, to improve machinability without reducing conductivity; in lead, to improve resistance to vibration and fatigue; in cast iron, to help control the depth of chill; and in malleable iron, as a carbide stabilizer. It is also used in the chemical industry as a vulcanizing agent and accelerator in the processing of rubber and as a component of catalysts for synthetic fiber production. Tellurium’s other uses include those in photoreceptor and thermoelectric devices for electronic applications, as an ingredient in blasting caps, and as a pigment to produce
various colors in glass and ceramics.
In 2003, the estimated distribution of uses, worldwide, was as follows: iron and steel products, 50%; catalysts and chemicals, 25%; additives to nonferrous alloys, 10%; photoreceptors and thermoelectric devices, 8%; and other, 7%.