Graphite is a form of carbon, that is silvery black in colour. Graphite is one of the popular materials used as solid lubricant. The lamellar structure of graphite (the nature to flake), in the form of dry powder, makes it perfect to decrease friction. Graphite can also serve as a liquid based lubricant. The lubrication film gives resistance to wear and tear and also seizure resistance.
Being a dry lubricant, the powdered graphite reacts with water vapour and the molecular bonding doesn't occur, leaving it dry and slippery. But, it does not bond well with the surface and therefore keeps falling off, increasing the need to be applied often. Solid graphite lubricant is tolerant to temperatures of about 900 degree F. Higher temperatures than this leads to oxidation of graphite.
The liquid graphite lubricant is of different kinds. The graphite grease is designed to attach to the surface, where the grease will stop the graphite from falling off the work surface. Another mixture of graphite lubricants with liquid base is such that the liquid will evaporate when the mixture is painted on the surface, leaving the graphite to work to reduce friction.
As a dry lubricant, graphite could be used in some situations where wet lubricants may cause danger as in electric fittings or when lubricating substances such as wood. Moreover, graphite grease can tolerate more heat than natural grease or any other lubricants.
Graphite may be used as an additive in lubricating oil to raise the thermal tolerance. They are also used as ingredient of polymer based compound anti-friction coatings and form the second phase particles of metal based compound anti-friction coatings. They are used as molds for continuous casting and solid lubricant in metal forming.
Graphite is also utilised in continuous casting molds. The molds are fabricated from iso-statically pressed graphite. The low friction among the mold surface and solidifying metal ensures smooth extraction of the casting. The crystal structure of graphite offers low friction without the necessity of additional lubrication.
Graphite is known as natural and synthetic. Organic graphite is derived from mining. The purified graphite contains carbon, sulfur, SiO2 and Ash. The crystallizing quality of graphite is determined by the greater content of carbon, and more the lubricity and resistance to oxidation. Synthetic graphite is sintered from high temperature and has extremely high carbon content of up to 99.5-99.9%, and is therefore very good as a lubricant.
While the traditional automotive oils can not withstand the high temperatures, graphite can function as lubricants in auto engines which reach temperatures as high as 1,250 degree F. The commercially available graphite lubricant is a colloidal dispersion of billions and billions of microscopic particles of graphite. When this is added to the crankcase of an engine, it works with the motor oil to decrease friction. It also penetrates effectively into parts where oil cannot reach, keeps oil from thickening, enhances compression and aids energy consumption and fuel economy.
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