Energy & Green Tech

EU wants battery autonomy, but first it needs graphite

As Europe looks to declare its tech independence by becoming a leader in next-generation batteries, it will have to start by making its own graphite. The problem is, nearly all of it now comes from Asia, mainly China.

Graphite

The mineral graphite /ˈɡræfaɪt/ is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω (graphō), "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead (not to be confused with the metallic element lead). Unlike diamond (another carbon allotrope), graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal. It is, consequently, useful in such applications as arc lamp electrodes. Graphite is the most stable form of carbon under standard conditions. Therefore, it is used in thermochemistry as the standard state for defining the heat of formation of carbon compounds. Graphite may be considered the highest grade of coal, just above anthracite and alternatively called meta-anthracite, although it is not normally used as fuel because it is difficult to ignite.

There are three principal types of natural graphite, each occurring in different types of ore deposit:

Highly ordered pyrolytic graphite or highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) refers to graphite with an angular spread between the graphite sheets of less than 1°. This highest-quality synthetic form is used in scientific research. The name "graphite fiber" is also sometimes used to refer to carbon fiber or carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.

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