Several mattresses are described as having foams or fibers infused with graphite or diamond particles. Graphite and diamond are two kinds of carbon crystals. Both are pure carbon, but they differ in the crystalline structure. The structural difference makes diamond extremely hard and graphite relatively soft. Real diamond particles (a.k.a. diamond dust) are very abrasive and are used industrially for grinding and polishing. Solid graphite is commonly used for pencil lead, while granular or powdered graphite is a lubricant (for example in locks).
How and why are graphite and diamond dust used in mattresses? The stated reason given by those mattress manufacturers who use “diamond” particles in their mattresses is for cooling (it is usually infused into foams). According to them, diamond dust is highly heat-conductive, transferring heat away from the sleepers to where it can dissipate.
The same reason is often listed for the use of graphite, but graphite is also credited with adding strength to mattress components, from foams to fibers. Graphite is more heat conductive than foam, cotton, rayon and polyester. This would be true whatever the shape of the graphite: powder, flakes, sheets or fibers.
The strengthening factor indicates the likely use of oriented monocrystaline graphite fibers, similar to the carbon/graphite fibers used in high-performance fishing rods. In this case, the term graphite may have been applied to carbon nano-tubes. However, it may also be the use of graphene (a single sheet of graphite) rolled up into a fiber.
Technical literature about the use of graphite in foam and topside mattress components (just under the cover) addresses another, less glamorous reason, one seldom linked with graphite in mattress descriptions: fire safety. Certain forms of graphite flakes will expand at the combution temperatures of polyurethane foam (and its derivatives, such as memory foam). This will cover the foam and cut off the supply of oxygen. For this to be effective, the exact form of the graphite must be balanced with the combustion point of the foam. It’s not perfect, but it is a non-chemical method of flame retardation, which should be a selling point.
Graphite is not very commonly used in mattresses, at least not yet. Before 2013, a few mattresses with graphite were introduced. On Beds.org, reviewed mattresses with graphite or diamond represent only ten manufacturers out of 115.
As to diamond powder/particles/crystals/dust, I suspect that this could be a more fashionable wording for graphite. After all, both diamond and graphite are carbon crystals.
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