Carbon is a chemical element that is usually represented by the symbol in the periodic table. It is nonmetallic, and it takes the atomic number 6. Four electrons are free; hence they form covalent chemical bonds. Carbon is also tetravalent, and it falls under group 14. It features three isotopes that occur naturally. Carbon is the 4th most abundant element by mass in the universe after helium, oxygen, and hydrogen. When atoms of carbon bond together, they form various isotopes. Diamond, graphite, and buckminsterfullerene are some of the most common allotropes of carbon. However, the physical properties of carbon are very different from their allotropes. The largest source of inorganic carbon is carbon dioxide, dolomites, and limestone. However, significant quantities are obtained from coal, oil, peat, and methane clathrates.
Carbon is used as a fuel when it’s in the form of coal, which is mainly made of carbon. Coal is then used in many industries as a source of power—carbon burns as it combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and sometimes carbon monoxide. Carbon dioxide can be obtained from burning carbon, and it has many applications such as extinguishing the fire, making soft drinks, and also packaging foodstuffs.
2. Pencil tips
Graphite, which is an allotrope of carbon, is used to make pencil tips. This allotrope for carbon is suitable for making pencils because it easily leaves gray marks on paper. Initially, the graphite rod was wrapped by a string then inserted into hollow sticks. However, pencils have improved after manufactures were able to mix graphite with clay. The clay eliminates the need for a string hence since it made the graphite a harder substance that could be inserted into the sticks easily.
3. Dry cells
Graphite is the most common type of cathode in a dry cell battery. It serves as solid support and also helps in reducing the half-reaction. Dry cell batteries have played a very important over the last couple of years as far as saving energy is concerned.
4. Making jewelry
Diamond is another allotrope for carbon. The diamond itself is a valuable stone, and that’s why it makes a good raw material for making jewelry. Some people even prefer storing their packets of rice in terms of a huge collection of jewelry. They are very important in the fashion industry because they make people look more attractive.
Graphite a carbon allotrope is used to make electrodes that are used mostly in an electric arc furnace for manufacturing steel. It is the most suitable material for making electrodes thanks to its high levels of electrical conductivity. Moreover, graphite has the capability of sustaining high levels of heat that are generated during this process. Carbon graphite electrodes are important for removing defects in castings and also forming a bevel of the groove.
Graphite carbon is also used as a lubricant thanks to its lower shearing strength when under friction force. It makes a good solid lubricant, and so many people use it as their primary lubricant.
7. Printing ink
A fine powdered form of carbon is the pigment that is mostly used in printing ink. Furthermore, carbon black is also used in laser printers. Printing is very important in almost all industries, and that carbon is a very important element.
8. Cutting, drilling, grinding, and polishing industries
Diamond is a very hard substance, and that’s why it makes effective cutting tools. Apart from its toughness, diamond has higher wear resistance, a longer lifespan, and also a higher grinding efficiency. Most people prefer cutting materials made from the diamond because it provides a clear cut.
9. Drawing material
Carbon is also used in making a carbon pencil. This pencil is made by combining graphite and carbon. Furthermore, carbon pencil goes smoothly because it has a fine grain.
10. Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber is mostly made up of carbon atoms. Carbon fibers are very important, especially in making bicycle frames
11. Filler in rubber products
To achieve long-lasting products, the rubber industry uses carbon to reinforce fillers. Vehicles that use such tires have lower greenhouse emissions.
Since carbon has antiseptic and anti-microbial properties, it is used for the purification of water. Silver is first loaded with activated carbon so that it can be used as an adsorbent.
Carbon has been used to make nanotubes that are used in the medical field. Carbon dioxide is used as a cryotherapy agent or an insufflation gas that is essential for arthroscopy, laparoscopy, and endoscopy. Carbon also plays a big part when it comes to nanotechnology, which is used in modern theatres. Nanotechnology can be used in the human body to aid in surgery or to tackle broken organs.
14. To reduce iron ore into Iron
Carbon is used in metal smelting, especially in the steel and iron industries. Most of the metallic equipment you see is made of Iron, or they contain some percentage of this metal.
15. Carbon dating
Carbon dating is one of the most important uses of carbon. It is mainly used to measure the age of certain things. A rare form known as carbon-14 is mostly used by scientists to measure the age of bones, fossils, etc. The amount of carbon released is compared and recorded as the age estimate of a given organic substance. Researchers are able to study the early days of human life with the help of carbon dating.
Recently discovered allotropes of carbon such as buckminsterfullerene, grapheme, and nanotubes are playing a big role in nanotechnology. If you are in the robotics industry, then you already know the benefits of such technology.
Carbon makes up around 18% of the human body. For example, foods like proteins, sugars, and glucose are all made of carbon. All these foods contain carbohydrates, an important source of energy. Carbohydrates are elements of carbon.
18. Nuclear power plants
Carbon is used to slow down the neutron’s reaction in a nuclear power plant. These power plants are useful in generating clean energy that is used in the modern-day world.