Carbon: The Dark Element Teyonce Allison - Bryan 8f

Carbon (C) was discovered in 1789 from the Latin carbo meaning "charcoal." Antoine Lavoisier proposed carbon to be an element towards the late 18th century. He carried out a series of experiments to reveal its properties (which are different between graphite and diamond). In one of his experiments, Lavoisier used a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays on a diamond and saw the diamond burn and disappear. He noticed that the diamond combined with oxygen to form carbon dioxide which led him to conclude that diamond and charcoal were both made from carbon.
  • The atomic number is 6
  • The atomic mass is 12
  • Carbon has 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons
  • Carbon has three stable isotopes: Carbon- 12, Carbon- 13, Carbon- 14

Coal is a major natural source of carbon and is used in many different ways. Some of the different kinds of coal are:

  • Steam coal - which is mainly used for power generation
  • Coking coal - which is mainly used for steel production

Coal is also an important ingredient in producing things such as:

  • Activated carbon: which is used in filters for water and air purification and health machines
  • Carbon fibre -which is used in construction, mountain bikes and tennis rackets
  • Silicon metal - which produces silicones and silanes, which are used to make water repellents, resins, cosmetics, hair shampoos and toothpaste

One of the major uses of carbon is that is important in many different aspects of the petrochemicals industry. Fuels such as coal and oil which are used quite often today are based on carbon. Carbon also plays a heavy role in the steel industry as carbon is a key component of steel.

  1. Carbon is a nonmetal that can bond with itself and many other elements, making it able to form nearly ten million compounds
  2. Carbon can take the form of one of the hardest substances (diamond) or one of the softest (graphite).
  3. About 20% of the weight of living organisms is carbon.
  4. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe


Created with images by James St. John - "Graphite (Sri Lanka) 2"

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