7 Different Uses of Graphite

Graphite has a wide variety of almost contradictory uses. An allotrope of carbon and one of the world’s softest minerals, its uses range from writing implements to lubricants.

It can be made into a one-atom-thick cylinder of graphene that is a super-strength material used in sports equipment. Graphite can behave like metal and conduct electricity but also as a nonmetal that resists high temperatures.

Graphite occurs naturally as flakes and veins within rock fractures or as amorphous lumps. The basic crystalline structure of graphite is a flat sheet of strongly bonded carbon atoms in hexagonal cells.

Called graphenes, these sheets stack above each other to create volume, but the vertical bonds between the sheets are very weak. The weakness of these vertical bonds enables the sheets to cleave and slide over one another.

However, if a graphene sheet is aligned and rolled horizontally, the resultant material is 100 times stronger than steel.

Uses of Graphite

Graphite is also used in pencils, steel manufacturing, and electronics such as smartphones. Perhaps its most important application is the lithium-ion battery, where graphite ranks above even lithium as the key ingredient. There is actually 10 to 30 times more graphite than lithium in a lithium-ion battery.

These are some uses of graphite:

  • Writing Materials
  • Lubricants
  • Paint
  • Refractory
  • Nuclear Reactors
  • Batteries
  • Graphene Sheets

MORE: What is Graphite?

1. Writing and Artists Materials

The word graphite is from the Greek language which translates as ‘to write’. So the most common use of graphite is in making the lead in pencils.

“Lead” pencil cores are made of a mixture of clay and graphite, which is in an amorphous form. Loosely cleaved graphite flakes mark the paper, and the clay acts as a binding material. The higher the graphite content of the core, the softer the pencil and the darker its trace.

There is no lead in what is known as lead pencils. The name originated in Europe when graphite was called “plumbago” or “black lead” because of its metallic appearance.

Graphite’s use as a marker dates from the 16th century in northern England, where local legend states that shepherds used a newly discovered graphite deposit to mark sheep.

2. Lubricants/Repellents

Graphite is one of the main ingredients in lubricants like grease, etc. Graphite reacts with atmospheric water vapor to deposit a thin film over any adjacent surfaces and reduces the friction between them. It forms a suspension in oil and lowers friction between two moving parts like car brakes and clutches.

Graphite works in this way as a lubricant up to a temperature of 787 degrees Celsius (1,450 degrees Fahrenheit) and as an anti-seize material at up to 1,315 degrees Celsius (2,399 degrees Fahrenheit).

This powerful mineral acts as a good repellant; hence a plethora of manufacturing companies use graphite as an ingredient in repellent solutions. One of the most common repellants that use graphite includes metal protectors.

3. Paint

If you have ever come across paints that guarantee the protection of walls, then you would be able to find graphite in them. In this case, the powder form of graphite comes into use. Factories mix the powdered graphite in paints to create authentic protection for the walls.

4. Refractories

Graphite is a common refractory material because it withstands high temperatures and tolerance without changing chemically. It is used in manufacturing processes ranging from steel and glass making to iron processing. It is also an asbestos substitute in automobile brake linings.

5. Nuclear Reactors

The capacity of graphite to absorb fast-moving neutrons is very high, so most of the time, this mineral is very much in use to stabilize or neutralize the reactions of neutrons.

6. Electrical Industry

Crystalline flake graphite is used in the manufacturing of carbon electrodes, brushes, and plates needed in dry cell batteries and the electrical industry. Interestingly, natural graphite is also processed into synthetic graphite. This type of graphite is useful in lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries have a lithium cathode and a graphite anode. As the battery charges, positively charged lithium ions in the electrolyte a lithium salt solution accumulate around the graphite anode.

A lithium anode would make a more powerful battery, but lithium expands considerably when charged. Over time, the lithium cathode’s surface becomes cracked, causing lithium ions to escape. These in turn form growths called dendrites in a process that can short circuit the battery.

7. Graphene Sheets

Rolled single graphene sheets are 10 times lighter, as well as 100 times stronger than steel. Such a rolled sheet is also referred to as graphene, and this derivative of graphite is the world’s strongest identified material and has been used to make super-strength, lightweight sports equipment.

Its high electrical conductivity, low light absorbance, and chemical resistance make it an ideal material for future applications, including in medical implants such as artificial hearts, flexible electronic devices, and aircraft parts.

Application of Graphite

Graphite is used in pencils and lubricants. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Its high conductivity makes it useful in electronic products such as electrodes, batteries, and solar panels. But also it has an industrial application of graphite as per below:

1. in the Chemical industry

In the chemical sector, graphite is employed in many high-temperature applications, like in the production of phosphorus and calcium carbide in arc furnaces. Graphite is used as an anode in specific aqueous electrolytic processes such as the production of halogens (chlorine and fluorine).

2. in the Nuclear industry

Large amounts of high-purity electrographite are used for producing moderator rods and reflector components in nuclear reactors. The suitability of electrograms comes from the low absorption of neutrons, high thermal conductivity, and high power at high temperatures.

3. Electrical applications

Graphite is mainly used as an electric material in the manufacture of carbon brushes in electric motors. Here, the component’s service life and performance largely depend on grade and structure.

4. Mechanical applications

Graphite is widely used as an engineering material across a variety of applications such as piston rings, thrust bearings, journal bearings, and vanes. Carbon-based seals are used in the fuel pumps and shafts of several aircraft jet engines.

4.1. Seal rings & Turbine rings:

Used alongside graphite guide rings to seal high-pressure, oil-free gases. Because of Self-lubricating, chemically inert, high strength-to-weight ratio, thermal stability

4.2. Slip rings & Sliding rings

Electromechanical devices are designed to transmit electrical current from a stationary device to a rotating one. They improve mechanical performance and remove the need to have wires dangling from movable joints. Graphite use Because of its Conductivity, self-lubricating properties that mean it can resist wear over time.

4.3. Bearings & Bushings

Bearings are components that support a load while in contact with and moving relative to another part. A type of bearing, bushings are thin tubes designed to reduce friction between two surfaces sliding against each other. Graphite use Because of its Self-lubricating, long service life, thrives in harsh environments.

4.4. Vanes

Blades are attached to a rotating wheel that pushes or is pushed by wind or water. Graphite use Because of its Self-lubricating, resistant to high temperatures, chemically inert.

4.5. Lubrication blocks

Designed to lubricate rotary equipment such as trunnion rolls, riding rings, tires, and insert seals where wet lubricants can’t be used. The weight of the block keeps it in constant contact with the rolling surface, depositing a thin film of graphite. Graphite use Because of its Self-lubricating, resistance to wear over time

Related Articles:

  1. What is Graphite?
  2. What are the types of Graphite?
  3. What is the Structure of Graphite?
  4. What are the main properties of Graphite?

FAQs.

What are the uses of graphite?

Graphite is used in pencils and lubricants. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Its high conductivity makes it useful in electronic products such as electrodes, batteries, and solar panels.

  • Color: Iron-black to steel-gray; deep blue
  • Other characteristics: strongly anisotropic,
  • Optical properties: Uniaxial (−)
  • Diaphaneity: Opaque, transparent only in extra.

What are the five uses of graphite?

Following are the uses of graphite:

  • Used in making a pencil.
  • Used as a dry lubricant.
  • For making electrodes.
  • For polishing iron articles.
  • As a moderator in the nuclear furnace.

What is graphite and its uses?

Graphite is used in pencils, lubricants, crucibles, foundry facings, polishes, arc lamps, batteries, brushes for electric motors, and cores of nuclear reactors. It is mined extensively in China, India, Brazil, North Korea, and Canada.

What are everyday uses for graphite?

Graphite Uses in Everyday Life

  • Pencil Lead.
  • Batteries.
  • Touch-Screens.
  • Art Supplies.
  • Headphones.
  • Car Brakes.
  • Dry Lubricants.
  • Sensors.

What are the uses of graphite and diamond?

The atoms in graphite and diamond are strongly bonded with covalent bonds, forming different arrangements with each other. Diamonds are used in Jewelry making, construction, minor industrial applications, and surgeries. Graphite are used in stationery, lubricants, industries, or nuclear reactors.

How is graphite used in sports?

Such a rolled sheet is also referred to as graphene, and this derivative of graphite is the world’s strongest identified material and has been used to make super-strength, lightweight sports equipment.

Why is graphite used for pencils?

Graphite molecules are flat groups of carbon atoms that are stacked in layers. The layers slide against each other and allow the lead to slide off the pencil point and onto the paper. When you erase with a rubber eraser, the graphite in the lead sticks to the rubber better than it does to the paper.

How is graphite used by humans?

Graphite is also used in pencils, steel manufacturing, and electronics such as smartphones. Perhaps its most important application is the lithium-ion battery, where graphite ranks above even lithium as the key ingredient. There is actually 10 to 30 times more graphite than lithium in a lithium-ion battery.

What is graphite used for in phones?

Graphite is used for the anodes of lithium-ion batteries because of its electrical and thermal conductivity. Bastnaesite is a source of rare-earth elements used to produce magnets in speakers, microphones, and vibration motors.

How is graphite used in electronics?

Graphite’s unique ability to conduct electricity while dissipating or transferring heat away from critical components makes it a great material for electronics applications including semiconductors, electric motors, and even the production of modern-day batteries.

Why is graphite used in batteries?

Graphite is the most commonly used to serve as the anode material in lithium-ion battery manufacturing due to its relatively low cost and its energy density. Graphite has great conductive properties and for the most part, is readily available.

Is graphite used as a lubricant?

Graphite has been used for many years as a lubricant. The lubricating mechanism of graphite is thought to be mechanical in nature and results from the sliding of one graphite particle over another graphite particle. Graphite may be used as a dry lubricant or may be dispersed in lubricating oil.

Why graphite is a good conductor of electricity?

In a graphite molecule, one valence electron of each carbon atom remains free. Due to the free electrons in its framework, graphite can perform electricity. Therefore, graphite is said to be a good conductor of electricity.

What are uses for carbon?

Carbon (in the form of coal, which is mainly carbon) is used as a fuel. Graphite is used for pencil tips, high-temperature crucibles, dry cells, electrodes, and as lubricant. Diamonds are used in jewelry because they are so hard in the industry for cutting, drilling, grinding, and polishing.

Where is graphite used to reduce friction?

The carbon atoms are strongly bonded together in sheets. Because the bonds between the sheets are weak, graphite shows lower shearing strength under friction force. Thus, it can be used as a solid lubricant and has become one of the traditional and primary solid lubrication materials.

How much graphite is used in a pencil?

The main components in the manufacture of rods purified graphite powder and the clay binder kaolin remain the same; the hardness of the graphite core depends on the ratio of graphite to kaolin, with softer cores containing more graphite. The hardest pencil contains about 20% graphite, the softest one up to 90%.

What type of graphite is used in pencils?

Pencils have cores made from powdered graphite (not lead) fired with clay, which varies in hardness. The type of graphite used in pencils is relatively soft and malleable, a little like lead, and was mistakenly thought to be a form of lead when first discovered.

Is graphite a rock or mineral?

Pure graphite is a mineral form of the element carbon (element #6, symbol C). It forms as veins and disseminations in metamorphic rocks as the result of the metamorphism of organic material included in limestone deposits.

Why is graphite used as dry lubricant?

The carbon atoms are strongly bonded together in sheets. Because the bonds between the sheets are weak, graphite shows lower shearing strength under friction force. Thus it can be used as a solid lubricant and has become one of the traditional and primary solid lubrication materials.

Is graphite used in batteries?

A key component of lithium-ion batteries is graphite, the primary material used for one of two electrodes known as the anode. When a battery is charged, lithium ions flow from the cathode to the anode through an electrolyte buffer separating these two electrodes.

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