Main properties and application areas

Car­bon (C) holds sixth place on Mendeleev’s pe­ri­od­ic ta­ble of el­e­ments. Car­bon has been known since an­cient times. Prim­i­tive peo­ple no­ticed that af­ter wood burned, char­coal formed, which they could use to draw on the walls of caves. Car­bon is found in the com­po­si­tion of ev­ery or­gan­ic com­pound. The two most wide­ly stud­ied al­lotrop­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tions of car­bon are graphite and di­a­mond.

Graphite is a soft, black sub­stance which eas­i­ly leaves traces on pa­per, and has a metal­lic shine. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, graphite is an ex­cel­lent con­duc­tor of heat and elec­tric­i­ty. Graphite is used in in­dus­try for man­u­fac­tur­ing graphite lu­bri­cants, and also for mak­ing pen­cils.

Graphite Schist [Deposit Photos]

Un­like graphite, the struc­ture of an­oth­er al­lotrop­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tion, di­a­mond, re­sem­bles a tetra­he­dron. Be­sides car­bon, di­a­mond is made up of chromi­um, sil­i­con, alu­minum, man­ganese, ti­ta­ni­um and iron. Af­ter car­bon, ni­tro­gen is the largest com­po­nent in di­a­mond. Ow­ing to its struc­ture, it does not con­duct elec­tric­i­ty and has weak heat con­duc­tiv­i­ty. Di­a­monds are used for mak­ing pre­cious stones. Ar­ti­fi­cial­ly cre­at­ed di­a­monds are used for mak­ing cut­ting tools and abra­sive ma­te­ri­als.

Nearly octahedral diamond crystal in matrix [Wikipedia]

An­oth­er al­lotrop­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tion of car­bon is the fullerene. The fullerene con­sists of many car­bon atoms con­nect­ed by co­va­lent bonds. The mol­e­cules in the com­plex struc­ture of the fullerene are held to­geth­er by elec­tro­stat­ic and Van der Waals forces. The prop­er­ties of fullerenes have not been ful­ly stud­ied. But we do know that this al­lotrop­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tion of car­bon can be used for man­u­fac­tur­ing medicine thanks to its abil­i­ty to ab­sorb free rad­i­cals.

Fullerene Molecule [Deposit Photos]

The chem­i­cal prop­er­ties of car­bon

1. Car­bon is a non-met­al and can in­ter­act with the met­al el­e­ments with the for­ma­tion of car­bides:

Ca + 2C = CaC₂

2. The com­bus­tion re­ac­tion of car­bon in an oxy­gen en­vi­ron­ment takes place in two stages:

2С + O₂ = 2CO

2СO₂ + О₂ = 2СО₂

3. In cer­tain con­di­tions, as a re­sult of com­bin­ing car­bon and hy­dro­gen, an or­gan­ic sub­stance is formed- meth­ane:

С + 2H₂ = CH₄

4. If wa­ter evap­o­rates on hot coal, car­bon diox­ide and hy­dro­gen forms:

C + H₂O = CO + H₂

5. Re­acts with flu­o­rine. Car­bon does not re­act with chlo­rine, bromine or io­dine:

С + 2F₂ = CF₄

6. Car­bon com­pounds with sul­fur are pos­si­ble:

С + 2S = CS₂

7. Car­bon can re­duce met­als from their ox­ides:

2ZnO + C = 2Zn + CO₂

8. It can also in­ter­ac­tion with sul­fu­ric acid at a high re­ac­tion tem­per­a­ture:

C + 2H₂­SO₄ = CO₂ + 2SO₂ + 2H₂O

You’ll un­der­stand these prop­er­ties bet­ter by con­duct­ing a few vis­ual ex­per­i­ments.

Car­bon in or­gan­ic chem­istry

Car­bon holds a spe­cial place on the pe­ri­od­ic ta­ble. Thanks to its struc­ture, it can form long chains of bonds of a lin­ear or cycli­cal struc­ture. At present over 10 mil­lion or­gan­ic com­pounds are known. The di­ver­si­ty of or­gan­ic com­pounds is very high, but at a high tem­per­a­ture they will al­ways trans­form in air into the end prod­ucts of car­bon diox­ide and wa­ter.

[Deposit Photos]

So the im­por­tance of car­bon and its con­tri­bu­tion to ev­ery­day life is enor­mous. One of the main bi­o­log­i­cal pro­cess­es, pho­to­syn­the­sis, will not take place with­out car­bon diox­ide.

Ap­pli­ca­tion of car­bon

Car­bon is wide­ly used in medicine to make var­i­ous kinds of medicine of an or­gan­ic na­ture. Thanks to car­bon iso­topes, ra­dio­car­bon anal­y­sis is pos­si­ble. The met­al­lur­gi­cal in­dus­try could not func­tion with­out the use of car­bon. The car­bon burnt in sol­id-fuel py­rol­y­sis fur­naces serves as a source of en­er­gy. In the pe­tro­le­um in­dus­try, petrol and diesel fuel are man­u­fac­tured from or­gan­ic com­pounds of car­bon. Car­bon is an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in the man­u­fac­ture of sug­ar. A syn­the­sis of dif­fer­ent or­gan­ic com­pounds is used in all spheres of ev­ery­day life.