We have been using pencils to write and scribble, ever since we learned the first alphabet as kids. Ever wondered what makes the lead part or the silvery-black tip rolled in wood in a pencil? It is none other than graphite, yes, this semi-metal is used in pencils and is one of the most vital element in most of the products and industrial uses.
Graphite as a sub-metal, is derived from carbon rocks that are metamorphosed. It is derived in a flaky form from these rocks. It is one of the softest metals, and is carbon in its stable form. It is a good conductor of electricity and also makes a good lubricant. This may be soft but does not have elastic or stretching properties. The many uses include mainly industrial and automobile sectors. Now that we know about graphite as an element, let us check the facts and information on graphite powder.
So is the powder made by simply crushing graphite in its crude form to fine crystals? Well, though the name may suggest, but graphite powder is not only a powdered form of natural or raw graphite. So what forms graphite powder?
It is true that powdered graphite flakes are mainly referred to as graphite powder. The powder is also made from recycled graphite. And this may come from the scrap that remains as electrode material after going through the manufacturing process, and crushing, etc. This process can be explained like: the electrodes of graphite are discarded as a result of lathe turnings or by cutting manufactured pieces.
A new electrode is used as the replacement of the old one, and during this a considerable amount of the old electrode is still present. This is what is crushed and made into graphite powder. The powdered form is also derived from heating of powdered petroleum coke, this is heated beyond graphitization temperature, and other procedures are carried out to get powdered graphite.
Uses and Disadvantages
Graphite in its powdered form is used in the paints, and other similar materials for coatings. This powder is also used to increase the carbon content in certain metals like steel. It also makes a good lubricant, that can protect surfaces against friction and related damage. The atoms of graphite in powder have a tendency to link to each other, like a lattice. These are formed in layers, due to the stacking of atoms on top of each other. Now what happens is, air and water get trapped in between these layers.
This is precisely what gives it the lubricating property. So powdered graphite, though dry, is used as slurry in the process for oil drilling, in brake linings and carbon batteries, the bottom surface of ships and boats, etc. Industries and manufacturing processes rely on this powder due to its dryness, yet with lubricant properties. Graphite has an amazing property of standing even hot environment, due to its high melting point, this makes it more useful in certain areas of high temperatures.
Not forgetting one of the most wide use of the powder, is being used to make the black lead in pencil. We generally refer to this as lead, but this is not the actual lead metal, but powdered graphite. The mechanism present in a lock and key also uses the powdered form of graphite for lubrication. It also is a favorite among many artists, who use this powder to create artwork.
Some of the disadvantages of are, that graphite in the powdered form may not be suitable for certain metals as it may cause corrosion. It may also cause stains on the object which is lubricated with graphite powder. Well, we know all about graphite in its powdered form. Though certain areas of production have banned the use of graphite powder, the many uses still make this element valuable in most of the industries.