Another TOP 5 synthetic abrasive mineral
Silicon carbide abrasive is artificial /synthetic/ mineral compound of silicon and carbon with chemical formula SiC. Its polular name Carborundum comes from carbo (carbon in latin) and rund (round in german).
It is really light but very solid mineral first presented to the public in 1890 in USA. The technical product is green and black while finished crystals are colorless with diamond glitter.
In means of hardness it is second only to Diamond and Borazon. On the Mohs Scale it is 9 of 10. It is harder then Zirkonia and much more resistant to heat than diamond. It’s melting point is at 2,730 °C or 4,950 °F.
Silicon carbide owns its popularity to its durability and low cost. Commonly used as an abrasive, in electrical devices, wear-resistant material and in the manufacture of semiconductor devices.
In substance it corresponds to only one natural material – meteoric moissanite. Since it is very rare and could be found in few spots on planet in very selected quantity – Carborundum. Is is produced mainly artificially.
Most simple method of production is combining silica sand and carbon in an Acheson graphite electric resistance furnace at a very high temperature.
In 1985 Greenleaf Corporation offers to the market the best of the ever made versions of Carborundum made of aluminum oxide and silicon carbide. This crystal becomes popular abrasive in modern industry and is widely used in many fields of production that needs grinding, honing, cutting and shaping.
Due to its excellent properties Carborundum has many other fields of use in the modern world.
- Because of its physical qualities Silicon carbide is used for heat treatment of metals, glass melting, reduction of ceramics and electronics components
- As semiconductor Carborundum is used for high voltage and high temperature devices. The technology had to overcome a number of problems with the quality of the crystals, but over time some products successfully established in the market and continue to develop.
- Carborundum is used for preparation of optics for space telescopes, space ships mirrors, and other devices that have to work in vacuum and extremely harsh conditions. See more about it here Herschel Space Telescope.
- In jewelry Carborundum is more familiar as synthetic moissanite. Its similarities to diamond /transparency and hardness/ makes it popular gemstone.