The objective of the investigation was to produce a high mesophase content pitch
from low cost anthracene oil without the use of catalysts. The pitch product was then
used to produce graphitic artefacts using only a low pressure (5 MPa) forming step
followed by carbonization and graphitization at a comparatively high heating rate.
The heat treatment times and temperatures were varied across a wide range but
only material treated at 475 ºC produced a significant amount of mesophase.
Furthermore only one pitch material resulted in a successful moulding which could be
carbonized and graphitized. This pitch contained a significant portion (~ 8 wt%) of
light material, which results in melting and flow behaviour during pressing, rather
than sintering, if it is removed the material can no longer be successfully pressed.
Due to the high mesophase content of the pitch a high density (1720 kg.m-3),
highly graphitic artefact with minimal deformation during heat treatment is produced.
The graphite product demonstrates grain separation but still results in a reasonable
flexural strength of 4.5 MPa which may be improved further by re-impregnation
depending on the requirement. This combined with its excellent purity and high yield
make it a good candidate for nuclear applications.