Definition - What does Carbide mean?

A carbide is a chemical compound in which carbon is combined with a metallic or semimetallic element.

Carbides have various industrial, engineering and household applications. Calcium carbide is an important source of acetylene and other chemicals, whereas the carbides of silicon, tungsten, and several other elements are valued for their physical hardness, strength, and resistance to chemical attack, even at very high temperatures. Iron carbide (cementite) is an important constituent of steel and cast iron.

Corrosionpedia explains Carbide

A carbide is a compound composed of carbon and a less electronegative element, usually a metal or a metal oxide. Carbide usually refers to calcium carbide, or sometimes tungsten carbide when the term is used by itself. Other types of carbides include:

  • Silicon carbide
  • Boron carbide
  • Iron carbide
  • Aluminum carbide

Carbides can be generally classified by chemical bonding type as follows:

  • Salt-like or ionic carbides - Having discrete carbon anions of the forms C4-, sometimes called methanides
  • Covalent compounds - Two carbides that are considered completely covalent; they are formed with the two elements that are most similar to carbon in size and electronegativity, boron and silicon
  • Interstitial compounds - Characterized by extreme hardness but also extreme brittleness
  • Intermediate transition metal carbides - The transition metal ion is smaller than the critical 135 pm, and the structures are not interstitial but are more complex.

Carbides are also classified as a ceramic material. Some other ceramic materials related to carbides are nitrides, oxides and borides. The usual properties of carbides are high strength, high temperature resistance and very good wear properties. Carbides are used in:

  • Circuits
  • Engines
  • Turbine blades
  • Areas where corrosion is prominent

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