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Graphite is a crystalline form of carbon, and a solid that has a high coefficient of friction. The layered structure makes it extremely slippery, allowing it to “slide” over other surfaces with minimal resistance. This property makes it a desirable substance for lubricants.
Typical uses of colloidal graphite include electrical conductivity, industrial lubrication, and high-temperature settings. In the case of conductivity, it is often used to protect a wire or other electrical conductor from corrosion. The lubricity of graphite is achieved through the large delocalization of valence electrons within the carbon layers, resulting in the formation of many small “bridge” molecules that can move freely between adjacent layers.
A water-based dispersion of colloidal graphite known as Aquadag (trademark for Acheson Defloculated Graphite) is commonly used in the manufacture of cathode ray tubes. The dispersion is usually diluted with distilled water to a consistency suitable for application, and can be applied by brushing, swabbing, dipping, or spraying. The diluted graphite coating is then dried to a continuous, adherent layer.
This type of lubricant is well suited for use in high-temperature environments and pressurized systems, as it will not evaporate or lose its effectiveness under these conditions. In addition, it will not be contaminated by dust particles as would oil-based lubricants.
The concentrated Graphite (Isopropanol base) is thixotropic, and will gel upon standing. Therefore, it is best agitated thoroughly and then diluted before use in order to achieve an adherent coating of sufficient thickness.