The Many Use Cases for Silver Part II: Engines, Hygiene, Mirrors and Windows, Dental Fillings

JP Buntinx
August 4, 2020

Throughout the centuries, silver has found a use in many different segments and industries. Some of these are still viable today, whereas others have been abandoned a while ago. Below are a few more examples of modern day sue cases for this precious metal. 

Engines of any Kind

Some people may be surprised to learn that engines have silver bits in them. Whether it is a car engine, one for a motorcycle, or any other, they all contain engine bearings. Every single unit is made of steel electroplated with silver. The choice for this precious metal is straightforward: it has a high melting point to cope with heat generated by the engine in question. 

Another use case for silver in engines is as a lubricant. Opting for this choice ensures friction between the ball bearing and its housing is reduced to a bare minimum. Furthermore, research was done to utilize silver in diesel engine filters. It could have potentially replaced platinum to catalyze oxidation of matter. However, diesel engines are slowly being phased out to protect the world’s environment. 

Hygiene and Silver mix Well

No one will look at a hygiene product and wonder how much silver is in there. It is a question people perhaps should ponder more often. Silver has tremendous antibacterial properties – a powerful tool for creating triage bandages –  making it a valuable tool for the production of water filters.

A silver coating can prevent the buildup of bacteria in such filters, for example. The same goes for water purification systems, which often make use of silver ions to kill microbes. 

The same properties have begun making their mark on the food industry. The packaging of food, for example, now contains nanosilver coatings. Even refrigerators may have such a coating to ensure food remains free from external threats. 

Mirrors or Windows may Contain Silver

One interesting aspect of silver is how, when polished, it becomes very reflective. There are numerous applications for this concept, including mirrors.

While the use of silver as a coating on transparent glass has reduced a bit, some older mirrors will still have this layer. More modern creations use aluminum, because it is a much cheaper option. 

Owners of windows which reflect sunlight and keep the interior or a building cool have a silver coating on their glass. It is unclear if the same results can be achieved by using other – and potentially cheaper – metals. 

Dental Cavities and Silver

Most people who walk around with a dental cavity filling will have small traces of silver in their mouth. It applies primarily to older fillings, as modern ones have a completely different composition.

This is also part of the reason why dental cavity fillings used to be extremely expensive decades ago. Using silver for such purposes used to be a costly endeavor. 

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