Aluminium Oxide Solubility in Acid

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Aluminium oxide (Al2O3) is soluble in acid, but it isn't in water. This is because aluminium oxide has an ionic structure, it consists of metal and non-metal ions, and is amphoteric. This means it reacts with both acids and bases to form salts. Because the ions are tightly held together in a hexagonal crystal lattice, it's hard to get them to separate.

However, when aluminium oxide is placed in a solution with strong acid (such as hydrochloric acid) it will react to produce sodium aluminate. Sodium aluminate is soluble in water. Aluminium hydroxide is also soluble in water. This reaction is carried out in the manufacture of alumina and other aluminium compounds such as refractory bricks, alumina hydrates and alums.

The solubility of crystalline aluminium oxide is very sensitive to concentrations of humic substances and temperature. Solubility decreases as the humic concentration increases or the temperature increases. It is possible to calculate a solubility product for crystalline aluminium oxide from the concentration of humic substances and the temperature.

Aluminium oxide is not flammable or explosive, but it's still a toxic substance and needs to be handled carefully. It's important not to inhale it as it can cause pulmonary fibrosis and pneumoconiosis. Workers working with it in the aluminium refinery industry have been observed to develop respiratory symptoms. This may be due to the presence of aluminium oxide in nuisance dust or from the exposure to fluoride from the waste water.

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