Graphite

Graphite

One of the crystalline allotropes of elemental carbon.

Chemistry

Keywords

graphite, allotrope of carbon, allotropy, layer lattice, carbon anode, electrode, pencil, inorganic chemistry, chemistry

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Graphite

Information

Molar mass: 12.011 g/mol

Melting point: 3,750 °C

Boiling point: 4,827 °C

Density: 2.26 g/cm³

Hardness: 1 (on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness)

Properties

Graphite is a dark grey, opaque material with a metallic shine. It is soft and leaves a mark on paper.

Each carbon atom is linked to three other carbon atoms by covalent bonds, forming hexagons. These rings form layers. The fourth electrons in the carbon atoms in the layer become shared and form an electron cloud. Due to its delocalised electron system, graphite conducts electricity and heat well. The layers are connected by weak secondary bonds, so they can slip easily.

Oxidants form graphitic acid, or graphite oxide, from graphite. Oxygen enters the space between the layers and causes graphite to swell.

Occurrence and production

Graphite occurs in areas prone to strong geological activity, where volcanic and sedimentary rock layers meet.

Uses

It is used in large quantities in the electrolysis phase of aluminium production as a carbon anode, as a graphite electrode in electric arc furnaces and in steel and corundum production. Pencils, crucibles and filters are also produced from graphite. Colloidal graphite (a permanent solution in oil or fat) is used as a lubricant.

Space-filling

Narration

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