What Is Graphite And Where Do I Use It?
- Graphite (chemical symbol C) is one of the purest and most crystalline forms of carbon and can be either mined or synthetically made.
- Natural graphite powders are mined and occur in 3 different forms: vein, amorphous (actually microcrystalline) and flake.
- Synthetic graphite powders are made from carbon precursors (like natural carbons or petcoke) through a high temperature electrochemical process.
- Both synthetic and natural graphite powders compete on final applications like batteries, carbon brushes, brake pads, lubricants, foils, refractories and recarburizers for steel.
Where is Graphite Produced?
- Natural graphite powders are mainly produced in China, which holds a 70% share of total world production, followed by Latin America with 20%. Europe production of natural graphite powders is less than 1%.
How much does it cost?
- The two most important parameters of natural graphite pricing are carbon content and mesh size which both depend on the natural forms of graphite.
- Selling prices of graphite vary a lot depending on the purity level, the particle size and additional products properties.
- Flake graphite prices remained relatively stable for many years until 2005, after which they climbed gradually to 2008 before declining in 2009 following the global financial crisis.
- Due to China’s huge steel needs, flake graphite prices soared in 2011-2012 but have since returned to 2008 levels due to excess production and reduced demand from the steel industry.
- Amorphous prices are much lower.
- Nowadays, graphite price ranges from 500 euro/ton till 15’000 euro/ton.
Specific Issues for Graphite
- Graphite is an essential ingredient in the production of the Lithium-ion batteries that will power the electrical and hybrid vehicles of tomorrow. Therefore, the demand of graphite is forecasted in strong increase in the future.
- There is no existing substitute for natural graphite in refractories.
- Another fast growing market is predicted to be expandable graphite for foul, insulation and fire retardant product.
- Natural Graphite is not subject to EU REACH Regulations.