Graphite is a mineral widely used in industry.
As a polymorphic mineral it is a form of carbon. Based on the structure, it is divided into 2 types:
- hexagonal (hexagonal structure),
- trigonal (contains rhombohedral cells).
Graphite is found worldwide, under natural conditions, in rocks such as graphite shale and crystalline shale.
There is also an artificial method of producing graphite by high-temperature heat treatment of carbon-containing substances.
The largest graphite production facilities are currently located in China, one of the countries with the highest demand for this material.
Graphite is an extremely soft material, susceptible to breakage and crushing, greasy, resistant to compression, odorless and conductive (electrical and thermal energy).
Graphite particles have lubricating properties and are resistant to acids and bases. Graphite does not dissolve in water and does not release compounds that could cause environmental contamination.
Industrial applications of graphite
Due to its specific properties, natural and synthetic graphite are used in various production sectors such as, for example, in the production of:
- crucibles and other refractory laboratory vessels
- lubricants for the maintenance of vehicles, equipment and machinery
- building insulation (graphite polystyrene)
- arc furnaces (graphite electrodes)
- sealants for pumps (sealing tapes or sheets)
- impregnating agents and anti-corrosion paints
Fire-retardant graphite is also used as a reagent in chemical laboratories and as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors.