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The Element Carbon

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Definition of the Carbon Element
Carbon is a solid. It is a naturally abundant dark grey to black non-metallic element that occurs in many inorganic and in all organic compounds, exists freely as Graphite and Diamond and as a constituent of coal, limestone, and petroleum, and is capable of chemical self-bonding to form an enormous number of chemically, biologically, and commercially important molecules.

Diamonds are one of the hardest (substances known to man. At high temperatures it binds with Oxygen to form carbon monoxide or dioxide. Refer to Carbon Reaction for its reaction to Water, Oxygen & Acids. Coal, soot, and diamonds are all nearly pure forms of carbon. The Atomic Number of this element is 6 and the Element Symbol is C.

The Properties of the Carbon Element
Symbol of Element : C
Atomic Number : 6
Atomic Mass: 12.0107 amu
Melting Point: 3500.0 C - 3773.15 K
Boiling Point: 4827.0 C - 5100.15 K
Number of Protons/Electrons: 6
Number of Neutrons: 6
Crystal Structure: Hexagonal
Density @  293 K: 2.62 g/cm3
Color : blackish

What is Carbon? Origin / Meaning of the name Carbon
The name originates from the Latin word 'carbo' meaning "charcoal". The French chemist, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier  wrote a book outlining a method for naming chemical substances. The name he used for the element was carbone, based on the earlier Latin term for charcoal, carbo.

What is Carbon? Periodic Table Group and Classification of the Carbon Element
Elements can be classified based on their physical states (States of Matter) e.g. gas, solid or liquid. This element is a solid. Carbon is classified as an element in the 'non-metals' section which can be located in groups 14,15 and 16 of the Periodic Table. Non-metallic elements exist, at room temperature, in two of the three states of matter: gases (Oxygen, Hydrogen & Nitrogen) and solids (Carbon, Phosphorus, Sulfur and Selenium). For additional facts and information refer to Carbon Properties.

What is Carbon? Facts about the Discovery and History of the Carbon Element
Carbon was discovered and was known as soot and charcoal in Ancient times. French physicist Ren Antoine Ferchault Reaumur (1683-1757) investigated the differences between iron and steel, correctly showing that the amount of carbon is greatest in cast iron, less in steel, and least in wrought iron. His book on this subject and his belief that carbon might be an element was published in 1722.

In 1787, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier and three other French chemists wrote a book outlining a method for naming chemical substances. The name they used for the element was carbone, based on the earlier Latin term for charcoal, carbo.

What is Carbon? Occurrence of the Carbon Element
Carbon is found in nature in the uncombined state in several forms. The diamond is practically pure carbon, while graphite and coal are largely carbon, but contain small amounts of other substances. Its natural compounds are exceedingly numerous and occur as gases, liquids, and solids. Carbon dioxide is its most familiar gaseous compound. Natural gas and petroleum are largely compounds of carbon with Hydrogen. The carbonates, especially Calcium carbonate, constitute great strata of rocks, and are found in almost every locality. All living organisms, both plant and animal, contain a large percentage of this element, and the number of its compounds which go to make up all the vast variety of animate nature is almost limitless. Over one hundred thousand definite compounds containing carbon have been prepared. In the free state carbon occurs in three allotropic forms, two of which are crystalline and one amorphous.

Carbon compounds form the basis of all life on Earth
Exists freely as graphite and diamond
Obtained from burning with insufficient oxygen
A constituent of coal, limestone, and petroleum

Abundances of the element in different environments
% in Universe 0.5%
% in Sun 0.3%
% in Meteorites 1.5%
% in Earth's Crust 0.18%
% in Oceans 0.0028%
% in Humans 23%

Medical Uses of Carbon - Health and Treatments
Medical Uses of Carbon, Health and Treatments.

  • Respiratory acidosis - Impaired lung function.  Rapid heart rate, seizures, coma, respiratory arrest Carbon dioxide used in some pump oxygenators to maintain blood carbon dioxide tension
  • Tendon and ligament injuries - Various symptoms according to the type of injury. Carbon fiber is used in various forms as soft tissue implants
  • Research into Carcinogenicity- Carbon black has been listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer

Associated Uses of Carbon
Fossil fuels - methane gas
Diamonds
Crude oil (petroleum)
Radiocarbon dating. Carbon dating (using carbon 14) is recorded from 1958
Smoke detectors
Graphite carbon used as charcoal for cooking & artwork
Gasoline
Kerosene
Medicine and Health Care
Carbon monoxide - dioxide
Carbon Fiber
Carbon paper was used from 1895 but will soon be obsolete
Carbon footprint was in use by 2001

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