Two Physical Properties of Calcium Carbide

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two physical properties of calcium carbide that make it a useful industrial material are its high melting point and metallic-like electrical conductivity. It is also odorless and colorless in pure form, though commercially it may contain small amounts of sulfur, phosphorus or nitrogen impurities. The purity of industrial calcium carbide can be determined by its X-ray diffraction pattern, with more pure carbides having sharper peaks and lower X-ray energies than less pure ones.

The reaction of calcium carbide with water produces acetylene gas, which can be used as a substitute for natural gas in some furnaces and is important in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is also used to manufacture chemicals for fertilizer and as a fuel in steelmaking. Acetylene can also be hydrolyzed to produce cyanamide, which is then added to soil as a nitrogen plant growth enhancer. Carbidose is a grayish-black, orthorhombic solid that has a density of 2.22 g/cm3. It melts at 2,200 degC and reacts with water.

Metal carbides have received much attention due to their extreme hardness, very high melting points and metallic-like electric conductivity. However, little is known about the bond nature of these materials. It is clear that they are complex compounds, but how the atoms of different metals in a carbide interact to give these unique properties remains unclear. Carbides have a carbon electronic structure with three covalent bonds between the carbide atoms. The two pi-bonds are formed by lateral overlapping of the p-orbitals and the sigma bond is created by head-on overlapping of the s-orbitals.