Graphite is a form of coal, a native element mineral, a crystalline allotrope of carbon, and a semimetal. Under standard conditions, it is the most stable formation of carbon. Graphite is used as the standard state for explaining the heat of formation of carbon compounds in thermochemistry. Different types of graphite ores are crystalline graphite, amorphous graphite, lump graphite, pyrolytic graphite, and graphite fibers. Graphite is usually found in metamorphic rocks, during metamorphism, due to the depletion of sedimentary carbon compounds. It is also found in meteorites and in igneous rocks. Different minerals associated with graphite include tourmaline, micas, calcite, and quartz. In meteorites, graphite occurs with silicate and troilite minerals. Natural graphite is used for batteries, expanded graphite, steelmaking, refractories, lubricants, foundry facings, and brake linings.
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Graphite is odorless, has a sub-metallic luster, is opaque, and is gray to black in color. It can be broken easily and when touched, it leaves a black streak on the hand. Despite its flexible and soft nature, it is non-elastic. Graphene, occurs naturally in graphite, is among the strongest known substances and has unique physical properties. However, the process of separating graphene from graphite requires more technological development.
Graphite powder is a calcium salt that it is used in numerous applications such as die or cast, desiccant in building materials, in medicine to immobilize casts, as a tablet excipient, and an impression material in dentistry. Graphite powder has the chemical formula CaSO4, in its purest form, it is also known as the mineral anhydrite or anhydrous water-free graphite powder. Furthermore, it is found as the mineral gypsum, in its hydrous form, and has the formula CaSO4.2H2O. It exists in various forms and states of hydration.
Increasing usage of graphite powder in automotive and battery industries is a major factor driving the graphite powder market. Graphite powder is an important material used in motors, cylinder heads, exhaust systems, clutch materials, and gaskets. Earlier, asbestos were primarily used in linings and disk brake pads. Presently, graphite powders have replaced asbestos in brake pads as they offer numerous benefits such as low-noise braking. Furthermore, graphite powder is used to manufacture ultra-lightweight, CFRP (carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic). Usually, CFRP was chiefly utilized in Formula One car and aerospace industries. However, owing to its lightweight property, it is has gained employed in the passenger car industry. This, in turn, is anticipated to increase the demand for graphite powder.
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The graphite powder market can be segmented based on product type, form, type, end-user application, and region. In terms of product type, the market can be divided into 99.9% and less than 99.9%. Based on form, the graphite powder market can be bifurcated into natural graphite and synthetic graphite. In terms of type, the market can be classified into natural microcrystalline graphite, natural vein graphite, natural flake graphite, primary synthetic graphite, and secondary synthetic graphite. Based on end-user application, the graphite powder market can be segregated into batteries (alkaline & zinc carbon), batteries (lithium-ion), carbon brush, conductive coating, expandable graphite, foundry coating, friction materials, fuel cells, gaskets & seals, pencils, plastics, powder metals, refractory, and steel & iron (carbon additive).
Key players operating in the graphite powder market include Asbury Graphite Mills, Inc., China Graphite Ltd., Conoco Phillips, Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd., Nippon Graphite Industries, Ltd., Timcal, Ltd. & Stratmin Graphite Div., Superior Graphite Co., Graphit Kropfmuhl, AG, and GrafTech International.