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What is boron carbide?

High-quality boron carbide for speciality refractory ceramics.

In the manufacture of refractory products, boron carbide (B4C) is used as an anti-oxidant during formulation, while in high-performance ceramics and abrasives, boron carbide is used to impart wear-resistance. Boron carbide from Elkem is carefully sourced to ensure consistent quality, and our specialists are always available to advise on your application.

The role of boron carbide

Boron carbide (B4C) is a dark grey–black material comprising 76.5–78 wt% boron, with an exceptional hardness that is only exceeded by diamond and cubic boron nitride. It is widely used to give a high degree of wear-resistance to many materials, and as an abrasive in its own right.

Applications of boron carbide

One of the most important applications of boron carbide is as an additive to high-performance carbon-bonded refractory materials. In such materials, it not only imparts a high degree of wear-resistance, but also acts as an anti-oxidant, sacrificially oxidizing before any carbon-containing materials, and so avoiding the release of carbon dioxide.

In these refractory materials, the resulting formation of boron oxide (B2O3) is also an advantage, as its columnar crystals help to reduce porosity, increasing the strength of the materials at elevated temperatures (especially above about 700 °C). In addition, if alumina is present, the formation of crystals of 9Al2O3·B2O3 causes volume expansion, which can reverse volume shrinkage and reduce cracks, extending product lifetime.

Premium-quality boron carbide from Elkem

At Elkem, we source boron carbide from a small number of trusted suppliers. Most of our customers are manufacturers of refractory ceramics who request boron carbide as the industry-standard 45 µm powder, but we can also supply FEPA 220 grade powder (0.106–0.045 µm) for special applications.

All our boron carbide undergoes a quality-check before it leaves our facility, and we also periodically send off batches for external chemical testing, to ensure consistent product quality. And if you need guidance on getting the best performance from your boron carbide, our experts are always on hand to discuss your application.