In this blog, we’ll be looking at the uses of all things carbon, including diamonds, graphite and carbon dioxide. Carbon is extremely important for our planet and our way of life; we wouldn’t want to imagine an Earth without it.
In this segment, carbon is a girl’s best friend, because this is where diamonds come from.
Diamonds are formed from carbon in the Earth, many come from carbon that was trapped under the Earth’s crust when our planet was formed. In the case of some diamonds, the carbon comes from carbonate rocks such as limestone and marble around plate boundaries where the temperature and pressure rise. Coal could be present in the formation of diamonds formed by asteroid impacts, as coal is a surface level carbon source.
Much of the diamonds used in industrial processes are now grown in laboratories. However, crafting diamonds through man-made means isn’t quite as simple as heating up some coal and subjecting it to high pressures:
Diamonds today are used in a variety of industries: fashion, computer cooling systems and occasionally as super heat resistant windows.
When plant remains are buried deep in the earth, the pressure and heat above those remains forces the oxygen out and turns the remaining carbon into coal. Coal is used to generate electricity and heat, in addition to its usage in a variety of industrial processes when refining metals.
Graphite is a naturally occurring mineral that is formed as a result of the reduction of sedimentary carbon compounds during metamorphism. Graphite is chemically similar to diamonds in its structure, but it is not as strong due to having fewer bonds between the atoms, which means that Graphite forms in layers at an atomic level. These layers can slide between one another, which is what makes graphite so soft and malleable.
Graphite has lots of cool properties; it conducts both heat and electricity, as well as being resistant to chemicals.
We use graphite in pencils, in lithium-ion batteries, and even to reinforce steel.
Graphene is the strongest material ever found, and it too comes from carbon. Graphene is forty times stronger than diamonds and, like graphite, is a great conductor of heat and electricity.
It is hard to craft high-quality graphene cost-effectively, but many labs around the world are trying to achieve just that. Some of the ways through which graphene is made are by thermo-engineering, sonication and carbon-dioxide reduction, which leads us onto our next point.
Carbon dioxide is one of the more obvious items in this list that involves carbon – it’s in the name. It’s quite easy to come across carbon dioxide, you’re making some right now just by breathing, but you can also find carbon dioxide being produced all over the world through decaying organic materials and fermentation processes.
Often an unwanted by-product in many industrial processes, CO2 has its own uses. One example would be carbon dioxide’s use in welding as a shielding gas. When welding, it is important to use up-to-date equipment to ensure your safety; be sure to regularly check industrial gas regulators as well as any cutting equipment.
Life on Earth
Life itself is carbon-based. It is even assumed that if life exists elsewhere in the universe, then it will likely be carbon-based, as well. Of the known elements, it is speculated that silicone could be the next most likely for supporting life, sharing many similarities with carbon’s molecular structure.
Coca-cola and other fizzy drinks use food grade carbon dioxide to attain their fizz. Approximately ninety percent of coca-cola is carbonated water, which is then mixed with the flavoured syrup. Carbon dioxide is not very soluble in water so it quickly turns into a gas when the pressure is released. This is partly why your drink may fizz over if shaken about before first opening the bottle or can.
As well as making great fizzy drinks, CO2 is also used in entertainment sports such as paintball; the gas fills the CO2 bottle as a liquid, and when the pressure is released, the liquid carbon dioxide becomes gas which expands and shoots the paintball from the gun.
Here at Adams gas, we love carbon. Specifically, we love carbon dioxide and it’s potential to enhance human life in so many different ways. We’ve mentioned some here, but there’s also the farming of the future – hydroponics – and glass frosting. If you’re in need of some more carbon in your life, we have refillable CO2 bottles that will suit your needs, whether they’re for paintballing or behind the bar.