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Aluminum oxide is a white crystalline powder with a chemical formula of Al2O3. It naturally occurs as the minerals bauxite and corundum and is used in the manufacture of aluminium metal by electrolysis. It is also used as an abrasive and in a number of pharmaceutical and industrial applications, for example as a desiccating agent or catalyst. It is a common ingredient of classic antacid tablets for heartburn and is sometimes used as a polishing agent for CD/DVDs.
Aluminium oxide is the main reason that aluminium cannot corrode, as it forms a thin layer of aluminium dioxide (
In addition to its use as an abrasive and refractory, it is employed in ceramics, and is a major component of the cement used for lining high-temperature equipment like kilns, furnaces, incinerators, reactors of various sorts, and crucibles. It is also an essential raw material in the production of aluminium metal.
Short-term exposure to high levels of finely divided aluminium oxide dust can cause irritation to the eyes and nose, and long-term exposure may damage lung tissue (Shaver's disease). For more information on the human health risks of aluminium oxide, see CAMEO's Hazardous Substance Data Bank entry for Aluminum Oxide.