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Graphite: A multifunctional additive for paint and coatings

SpecialChem / Jan 5, 2004

Graphite is familiar to most people as the "active ingredient" in lead pencils. However, its use in writing instruments is far outweighed by a myriad of other industrial applications whose performance depends on the unique chemical and physical properties of this material. Graphite is a major additive to many coating systems where it provides functionality as a refractory, lubricant, thermal conductor, electrical conductor, UV shield, electromagnetic pulse shield, corrosion shield and pigment. This article is a qualitative introduction to graphite -- a material that can provide formulators and manufacturers with an efficient means of adding value to coatings. The unique properties of graphite, its formation and application will be described with emphasis on the eloquent relationship between molecular and crystallographic form and their effect on its function. Graphite is one of the three, common, naturally occurring forms of carbon (graphite, amorphous carbon, diamond). The word graphite is derived from the Greek word graphein, to write. Common names for graphite include black lead, plumbago and mineral carbon.

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