Composed exclusively of the element carbon, as with diamond, graphite is a semimetal native element mineral and an allotrope of carbon, having said that, graphite and diamond are interesting minerals with a chemical identity! Physically being different, they are called as polymorphs. Minerals with equivalent chemistry and different crystal structures are known as polymorphs. While diamonds are brilliant and transparent, graphite is opaque and metallic.

They are considered as the highest grade of coal just above anthracite and otherwise called meta-anthracite, even though it is used as fuel for the reason that it is quite difficult to ignite. Under standard conditions, graphite is the most stable form of carbon. Consequently, for defining the heat formation of carbon compounds, it is used in thermo chemistry as the standard state.

Graphite Varieties

  • Crystalline flake graphite
  • Amorphous graphite
  • Lump graphite

Natural graphite uses

The use of graphite dates back to B.C, in the 4th millennium B.C. During the Neolithic Age in southeastern Europe, the Marita culture graphite was used in a ceramic paint for decorating pottery. The occurrence of natural graphite is consumed for:

  • Refractories
  • Batteries
  • Steelmaking
  • Expanded graphite
  • Brake linings
  • Foundry facings and
  • Lubricants

Graphene occurs naturally in graphite and it is one of the strongest substances known with unique physical properties. Prior to its functionality i.e. usage in any industrial processes, it requires some technological development for separating it from graphite.

Other uses of graphite include: zinc-carbon batteries, in electric motor brushes. In order to create a heat resistant protective coating, railroads would habitually mix powdered graphite with waste oil or linseed oil for the exposed portions of a steam locomotive's boiler, such as the smoke box or lower part of the firebox. With a historical reference, it was called the black lead or plumbago.