Graphite is one of the most interesting elements found on the earth. It is found naturally in its mineral form as well as produced in synthetic processes. The earliest use of graphite dates back to primitive man, who used it to draw on cave walls. It was also used by Egyptians to decorate pottery. During the Middle Ages, graphite was used as a refractory to line molds for the purpose of making smoother cannon balls, which could be fired farther. Throughout history, graphite has been confused with other minerals, especially galena and molybdenum. Names like plumbago and black lead have been used to describe the mineral and over time, the term graphite (meaning “to write”) was finally used to describe this mineral.
Graphite is gray to black in color, opaque with a metallic luster. It is a fairly soft crystalline form of carbon with a Mohs hardness of 1 to 2. Stable and chemically inert at normal temperatures, graphite has a very high sublimation point, in the absence of air. In its pure form, it is odorless, tasteless and nontoxic. It has a hexagonal, multi-layer planar microstructure which gives it a number of unique characteristics, the sum of which is not found in any other single material. The layers are alternating and honeycomb in structure, and are spaced at 1.42 angstroms apart (strong bonds), with 3.354 angstroms between layers (weak bonds).
This unique structure provides for specific characteristics such as:
- Chemical Inertness
- Electrical Conductivity
- Thermal Conductivity
Graphites also possess both Primary and Secondary Properties that make them valuable in many applications. As you can see below, the Primary Properties of Impurities, Graphitization, Particle Size Distribution, and Morphology in combination determine the Secondary Properties of Lubricity, Reactivity, Resiliency/Strength, and Conductivity.
Forms of Graphite & Carbons
The family of graphite materials includes amorphous graphite, crystalline flake and vein graphites, synthetic (artificial) graphite, along with various purified or treated graphitic products. These materials are sourced from selected and qualified mines and sources from around the world, or are produced or treated in various, unique ways, including Electro-Thermal Treatment/Purification Technology created by Superior Graphite. The various forms of graphite are as follows:
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