What is Carbon?
Carbon is at the origin of life itself!
Ranked among the light elements in the periodic table, carbon (C) belongs to the non-metals family which consists of elements such as oxygen (O). Carbon is found only in minute quantities in the Earth's crust. In nature, it is polymorphic and exists in the form of coal, oil, graphite, diamonds, etc.
Present on Earth since the planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, carbon has been at the heart of all technological developments since prehistoric times. In Latin, its name means coal.
Abundant in the universe and essential for all known forms of life, carbon transforms itself in contact with the other elements of the periodic table. Sometimes it is a gas, sometimes a liquid, sometimes a solid… with it, everything is possible!
Thanks to its multiple properties and characteristics (strength, mechanical, optical, energy performance, etc.), it is used for applications in a great many areas of activity: composite materials for airplanes, lithium-ion batteries, air and water pollution control, etc.
Often associated with greenhouse gases, carbon is a subject of controversy in the public debate. Yet in the form of graphene, it is considered – just like thermoplastic composites – one of the materials of the future about to revolutionize the industry and our daily lives.
Omnipresent in Solvay activities
Carbon is present, and plays a key role, in all the branches of chemistry and material science. It is used in all Solvay activities and is found, in particular, in its flavorings and solvents, in its mineral recovery agents, in the additives it uses in its surfactant formulations or in its advanced materials such as composites, etc. A composite material is obtained from the combination of a carbon fiber fabric with a resin. Solvay is leading the industrialization of composites that contribute to sustainable mobility. Ultra-lightweight and resistant, these materials are revolutionizing the transport industry.