Graphite is an opaque, non-metallic carbon polymorph with a black-silver color and a metallic to dull luster. Since it resembles metallic lead, it is also colloquially called black lead or graphite.
Formation of graphite
Graphite usually occurs as flakes or crystalline layers in metamorphic rocks such as marble, schist, and gneiss. Graphite may also be present in organic-rich shale and coal seams. In these cases, the graphite itself is likely the result of the metamorphosis of dead plant and animal matter. Graphite is also present in veins and sometimes in basalt. Graphite is also present in meteorites.
Graphite molecular structure
Graphite is made up of rings of six carbon atoms that are tightly joined together in a hexagonal shape, distributed in wide layers. The bonds within the layers are strong, but the bonds between the layers are less numerous and therefore weaker. Therefore, graphite is soft and easily exfoliated. Graphite is a stable form of carbon—diamonds at or near the Earth's surface are gradually turning into graphite. Fortunately, this process is very slow.
What is graphite made of?
Graphite is formed by the metamorphism of sediments containing carbonaceous material, the reaction of carbon compounds with hydrothermal or magmatic fluids, or possibly the crystallization of magmatic carbon.
Where do we get graphite?
The main export sources of mined graphite, by tonnage: China, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Madagascar. In meteorites, graphite occurs along with meteorites and silicate minerals. The small graphite crystals in meteorites are called Cliffites.
Is graphite soluble in water?
Graphite is insoluble in water. It has a high melting point and is a good conductor of electricity, which makes it a suitable material for electrodes required for electrolysis. Each carbon atom is bound into its layers by three strong covalent bonds.
Can graphite cut glass?
Due to its rigid structure, it can be used as a glass cutter. Graphite, on the other hand, is a layered structure of carbon atoms and is very soft, so it cannot be used to make cutting tools.
Can graphite be melted?
Graphite has a melting point similar to that of diamond, around 3600°C, at which point it sublimates rather than melts.
Is graphite flammable?
Graphite is non-flammable in bulk form, but flammable. a reducing agent. The mixture of graphite dust and air is explosive when ignited. Reacts violently with strong oxidants such as fluorine, chlorine dioxide and potassium peroxide.
Is graphite used in nuclear reactors?
Graphite is used in many other special applications in the nuclear energy industry. In reactor cores, graphite boride is sometimes used as a high temperature control rod material. The latest designs for gas-cooled reactors use graphite sleeves to support the fuel elements and guide the coolant.
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