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boron carbide powder is a very hard ceramic material with a Vickers hardness of more than 30 GPa. This makes it one of the hardest materials known to science, behind cubic boron nitride and diamond.
It is produced industrially by reducing boron oxide with carbon in an electric arc furnace. Boron carbide is used in a wide range of applications, including refractory materials, wear resistant coatings, and as a neutron absorber for nuclear power plants.
b4c powder can replace expensive diamond in certain applications, especially grinding and drilling. It is also a very good absorber of neutrons without forming long lived radioactive isotopes, which makes it ideal for use in nuclear reactors where it controls the rate of fission.
Micron powders of boron carbide have been prepared by a variety of methods, including plasma spraying and direct synthesis. Several boron-containing alloys can be prepared from boron carbide by varying the amount of boron and carbon present in the material.
A boron carbide micron powder can be treated with the thermal chemical process of boronizing to increase its surface hardness, wear resistance and abrasion resistance. This treatment is especially useful for tools, molds and machinery. It also decreases the need for lubrication and can be polished to a high gloss finish after treatment.
The boron content in a boron carbide micron powder should be 76% to 78%. This should allow it to be sized appropriately for boronizing. Damp reunion will affect dispersion performance and using effects, so boron carbide powder should be stored in a cool and dry place.