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Aluminium oxide is an inorganic compound of the element aluminium and oxygen. The name of the mineral is derived from its colour, which resembles the white of an egg.
It is the most common and widely used of all aluminium compounds. It is produced by the reaction of bauxite with hydroxide in a hot solution. It possesses both acidic and basic characteristics and is the main raw material for the production of aluminium metal, which is used in the manufacture of aircraft, boats, car bodies, containers and many other products. It is also used as an antacid. It relieves gastric discomfort by neutralising stomach acids and is therefore often included in the ingredients of antacid medications.
The chemical formula of aluminium oxide is Al2O3, and the aluminium atoms are located in the centre of the crystal structure, where they form a trigonal Bravais lattice with two aluminium ions per formula unit. The ionic bonding is covalent, and the aluminium atoms share three of their outer electrons with oxygen atoms to give rise to the neutral oxyaluminium cation. The oxyaluminium anion is characterized by its octahedral ligands, which fill about two-thirds of the octahedral interstices.
Aluminum oxide is amphoteric, and it behaves as a weak acid in the presence of a base, and as a strong base in the presence of an acid, and reacts with both to form salts. It is the major ingredient in the antacid product Al(OH)4-, which is used to relieve indigestion by neutralising stomach acid. It is also used in water purification to precipitate heavy metals, e.g. aluminium hydroxide, and in sewage treatment to adsorb colloids, suspended particles, pigments and organic matter.