In elementary form carbon occurs in three modifications as diamond, graphite or fullerene. Each of these modifications has completely different properties. Diamond is one of the hardest materials and as clear as glass; graphite, on the other hand, is very soft and consists of matt black, scaly crystals.
However, the greater part of the carbon on earth is present in bound form and, as carbonates, forms, for example, entire mountain ranges (Dolomites). The fossil raw materials coal, crude oil and natural gas are in turn a mixture of various organic hydrocarbon compounds, which are formed by the transformation of plant and animal remains under high pressure. The ability of carbon to form long chains or rings leads to a variety of chemical compounds.
This diversity of carbon and its compounds has always made it an important component in nature, in environmental chemistry, in technology and thus in human everyday life.
For example, charcoal was already used as a heat source in the Palaeolithic Age. Graphite is used as a pencil lead due to its layered structure and carbon black is used in black ink. Carbon also plays an important role in steel production. As a component in tires, carbon black played its part in the development of motorization. Due to its properties, graphite is also used as a lubricant, it is used in electric motors and has recently gained great importance as an electrode material in lithium-ion batteries in the course of electromobility and energy turnaround. Due to its porosity and large internal surface area, activated carbon is used in many areas as an adsorbent or carrier material for catalytic converters.
New areas of application and new product developments usually require precisely defined particle sizes. NETZSCH grinding and classifying machines are used, for example, in the manufacturing process of the following carbon materials to reliably achieve these particle sizes: