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General
  • Graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. Unlike diamond, graphite is an electrical conductor, and can be used, for instance, as the material in the electrodes of an electrical arc lamp.
  • Graphite holds the distinction of being the most stable form of solid carbon ever discovered. It may be considered to be the highest grade of coal.
  • Graphite can conduct electricity due to the vast electron delocalization within the carbon layers. These electrons are free to move, so are able to conduct electricity. However, the electricity is only conducted within the plane of the layers.

Process

  • A structural analog of graphite, hexagonal boron nitride, is used as a high-temperature lubricant as well, and due to its similarity to graphite is sometimes called white graphite.
  • During a fire, the graphite expands and chars to resist fire penetration and reduce the likelihood of the spread of fire and fumes. A typical start expansion temperature is between 150 and 300 Celsius.
  • Traditionally used synthetic graphite is now being successfully replaced by two other alternatives: purified natural and purified expanded types of graphite
  • The use of graphite is also limited by its tendency to facilitate pitting corrosion in some stainless steels, and to promote galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals.

Application

  • Graphite powder is used as a dry lubricant, although it might be thought that this industrially important property is due entirely to the loose interlamellar coupling between sheets in the structure.
  • Intumescent or expandable graphites are used in firestops, particularly plastic pipes and gaskets, fitted around the perimeter of a fire door.
  • Graphite powder is used for the purpose of conductivity enhancement in the MnO2 (EMD or CMD) cathodes.

Market

  • The powders as well as graphite containing conductive suspensions have played important roles in the development of new alkaline battery systems, which entered the market in 1998-2002.
  • The U.S. and European refractories industry had a crisis, with an indifferent market for steel and a declining refractory consumption per tonne of steel underlying firm buyouts and many plant closings.
  • Nowadays natural graphite became available at high purity levels. This feature, when combined with its other unique properties, allows it to successfully compete with and outperform traditional synthetic graphite offerings.

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