What is cadmium used for

Cadmium, a relatively obscure metal to the average person, plays an important role in a variety of industries and applications, despite its potential toxicity. This transition metal, represented on the periodic table by the symbol Cd and atomic number 48, offers a range of properties that make it indispensable in modern technology and manufacturing processes. From electronics to pigments, cadmium finds its way into many products and applications around the world. Let us learn about the versatile uses of cadmium in various fields.

What is cadmium used for

1. Batteries:

A primary application of cadmium is in rechargeable nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries. Known for their high energy density and long lifespan, these batteries are commonly found in portable electronic devices such as cameras, portable power tools, and cordless phones. Despite advances in lithium-ion battery technology, Ni-Cd batteries continue to be used in specific applications due to their reliability and cost-effectiveness.

2. Pigment:

Cadmium-based pigments are renowned for their vibrant colors and excellent fastness. Cadmium sulfide (CdS) and cadmium selenide (CdSe) are widely used in the production of red, orange and yellow pigments in paints, plastics, ceramics and textiles. These pigments offer superior color stability and resistance to heat and light, making them the preferred choice for artists and manufacturers.

3. Electroplating:

Cadmium's corrosion resistant properties make it an ideal choice for electroplating applications. Through the process of electrodeposition, cadmium can be applied to metal surfaces as a thin, protective layer, which prevents corrosion and increases durability. This makes cadmium-plated components valuable in the aerospace, automotive and marine industries where exposure to harsh environments is common.

4. Semiconductor Industry:

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is a semiconductor material with unique properties that make it suitable for photovoltaic cells in solar panels. CdTe solar cells offer high efficiency and low manufacturing costs, making them a competitive alternative to traditional silicon-based solar cells. The use of cadmium in this renewable energy sector underlines its contribution to sustainable technologies.

5. Nuclear Reactor:

Cadmium's ability to absorb neutrons makes it useful in control rods for nuclear reactors. These control rods, usually made of cadmium or its alloys, control the nuclear fission process by absorbing excess neutrons, thereby controlling the rate of the reaction and preventing potential meltdown. Cadmium's reliable performance in this critical application ensures the safety and efficiency of nuclear power generation.

6. Aerospace and Defense:

In aerospace and defense applications, cadmium coatings serve a variety of purposes including corrosion protection, lubrication, and solder ability. Components such as bolts, fasteners and connectors often undergo cadmium plating to withstand the harsh conditions experienced in aircraft, missiles and military equipment.


Cadmium is often mixed with other metals to enhance its properties. For example, cadmium is added to low-melting alloys such as solder, which are used in electronics assembly and plumbing. Additionally, cadmium-nickel alloys exhibit excellent resistance to corrosion and are employed in the marine and chemical processing industries.

While cadmium offers many benefits in a variety of applications, it is important to acknowledge its potential environmental and health risks. Cadmium is classified as a hazardous substance due to its toxicity, and exposure to high levels can cause serious health problems, including lung and kidney damage. Proper management, disposal and recycling practices are essential to reduce the adverse effects of cadmium on human health and the environment.

Cadmium's versatility and unique properties make it indispensable in many industries from electronics and renewable energy to aerospace and defense. Despite its toxicity concerns, responsible use and management of cadmium enables us to harness its benefits while reducing its environmental impact. As technology advances, cadmium will likely continue to be a valuable element in shaping our modern world.