Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. This post will take you through some of the common uses of carbon in the world today.
Uses of Carbon
- The major use of carbon is in the form of hydrocarbons, mainly methane gas and crude oil. Crude oil is used to make gasoline and kerosene through distillation.
- Cellulose, a natural carbon polymer found in plants, is used in cotton, linen and hemp.
- Plastics are made from synthetic (man made- not naturally occurring) carbon polymers.
- Graphite, a form of carbon, is combined with clays to make the ‘lead’ in pencils. Graphite is also used as an electrode in electrolysis as it is inert (does not react with other chemicals).
- Graphite is also used a a lubricant, pigment, a molding material in the manufacture of glass and as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors.
- Charcoal, another form of carbon, is used in artwork and for grilling (usually on a barbecue). Activated charcoal (another form of carbon) is used as an absorbant or adsorbant in many filters. These include gas masks, water purifiers and kitchen extractor hoods. It can also be used in medicine to remove toxins, gases or poisons from the digestive system.
- Diamond (yes, it’s another form of carbon) are used in jewelery. Industrial diamonds are used to drill, cut or polish metals and stones.
- Carbon, in the form of coke, is used to reduce iron ore into pure iron metal.
- When combined with silicon, tungsten, boron and titanium, carbon forms some of the hardest compounds known. These are used as abrasives in cutting and grinding tools.