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Graphite is the next big thing in the resource and minerals market due to years of underinvestment in new supplies, and growing demand in new applications, causing prices to rise sharply already in the past few years.

China, as the world's dominant supplier, has significantly curtailed exports in an attempt to exert greater control in the market. As a result, the EuropeaUnion has named graphite as one of 14 critical materials along with the rare earth elements.

Graphite has three market sectors that include synthetic graphite used for carbon electrodes in the steel industry, carbon fiber and natural graphite. Graphite as a whole and especially flake graphite market is priced according to size of flakes and according to carbon content.

Graphite Structure 

The basic units of the graphite crystal - six hexagonally arranged carbon atoms - form two dimensional lattices that interact with each other. This crystal structure results in a number of special properties that make graphite a raw material with a great variety of applications.

Graphite Properties

Excellent conductivity
The thermal and electric conductivity of graphite is based on free electrons. This property is determined by the size and the good degree of order of the crystallites.

Lubrication properties
Graphite has an excellent lubrication effect because the layers in the crystal lattice can be easily shifted against each other. This is especially obvious under high temperatures and pressure. 

Resistance to oxidation/ Fireproof
With its excellent degree of crystallisation, graphite is highly resistant to oxidation and to most chemical agents, which is why graphite is the preferred fireproof material. 

Formation of intercalation compounds 
The bonding strength between the layer planes allow the intercalation of certain molecules in the graphite lattice. This intercalation property is the basis for the application of graphite in the fields of special lubricants and rechargeable batteries.