Graphite, Gneis, Vein Graphite, Flakey


Today 95 % of the EU’s graphite demand is imported from China who currently accounts for almost three quarters of world graphite production. Only one of the reasons why the EU raw materials initiative identified graphite as a critical high tech raw material. China’s raw material export restrictions and a graphite industry that experiences high growth rates with the lithium battery industry and electromobility being the main drivers in need have fostered the development of numerous graphite projects outside China.
Graphite consists of a stack of individual carbon layers in which the carbon atoms are arranged in a honeycomb structure, individual layers being weakly held together. This structure results in very good heat and electrical conductance within the layers, flexibility, high resistance to chemical attack and its highly refractory character.
These unique properties make natural graphite the material of choice for a wide variety of applications including steel manufacturing, refractories, lubricants, automotive parts, carbon brushes, batteries and a variety of other applications.
Besides these rather traditional uses there is a wealth of emerging applications including lithium ion batteries, fuel cells, pebble bed nuclear reactors, ceramic armour tiles and a variety of special applications of graphene in the high-tech industry which will lead to a greatly increased demand.
Graphite is traded in amorphous (70-85% C), flake (85-90% C), vein (90-96% C) and synthetic (97-99% C) grade. Prices achieved for the grades are dependent on carbon content, flake size, ash levels, impurity levels and impurity types.
Flake or vein graphite can be processed to the high value expandable graphite or spherical graphite qualities which are obtained by a sequence of processing steps ending up with a high purity product. Flake graphite is playing a key role in the green energy revolution since electromobility and energy storage solutions rely on spherical graphite as anode material in Li ion battery technology offering higher power densities, being lighter and more compact than conventional batteries. Graphite consumption in Li ion batteries is more than 20 times that of Li. Amorphous graphite is used in applications such as brake linings, refractories and steelmaking.
Graphene, a material consisting of just one single carbon layer, is of considerable interest and holds tremendous potential for many emerging and highly advanced technical applications since it combines the favorable physical properties of graphite such as superior strength and flexibility compared to steel and extremely good heat and electrical conducting properties with transparence making it a superior material.

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