Thermal analysis and other techniques were employed to characterize two expandable graphite samples. The expansion onset temperatures of the expandable graphite's were ca. 220 °C and 300°C respectively. The key finding is that the commercial products are not just pure graphite intercalation compounds with sulfuric acid species intercalated as guest ions and molecules in between intact graphene layers. A more realistic model is proposed where graphite oxide-like layers are also randomly interstratified in the graphite flakes. These graphite oxide-like layers comprise highly oxidized graphene sheets which contain many different oxygen-containing functional groups. This model explains the high oxygen to sulfur atomic ratios found in both elemental analysis of the neat materials and in the gas generated during the main exfoliation event.
- Expandable graphite
- Graphite intercalation compound
- Graphite oxide
- Thermal analysis