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Iron dicarbide, FeC2

Iron dicarbide, FeC2, has been prepared by allowing melts of iron, containing from 6 to 10 per cent, of carbon, to cool. Crystallisation begins at 2380° to 2000° C., a pale yellow carbide separating out, with a silvery reflex. It is slowly attacked by nitric acid, and, when immersed in dilute copper sulphate solution, becomes coated with a film of metallic copper.

When ammonium ferrocyanide, or its double compound with ammonium chloride, is heated, a black magnetic powder is obtained. This, upon ignition in air, is completely transformed into ferric oxide without any change in weight, and is believed to be the dicarbide, FeC2.

Several other carbides have been described, namely, the mono-carbide, FeC; tetraferro carbide, Fe4C2 (which decomposes into γ iron and graphite at temperatures below 1130° C.); FeC4, Fe3C2, Fe5C, and Fe12C. The two last-named are obtained by the prolonged action of carbon monoxide on iron at red heat. Fe12C is more readily soluble in sulphuric acid than Fe5C, which enables the latter to be separated: -

Fe12C + 12H2SO4 = 12FeSO4 + CH4 + 10H2.

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