Burning Aluminium Oxide

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Aluminium oxide is a common compound, used for abrasives and in ceramics (including rubies and sapphires), as it is very hard and has good thermal conductivity. It is also very cheap to produce. It is a powder, and can explode on contact with water or air, so it should be stored dry. Its white colour makes it easy to identify.

burning aluminium oxide produces hydrogen gas, which reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water. This is a exothermic reaction, requiring a lot of energy to start. The combustion reaction requires a high temperature - around 1600 °C - to sublimate the aluminium and break the nitrogen-nitrogen triple bond. This liberates a considerable amount of energy (standard enthalpy of formation for Al2O3 is -1675.7 kJ/mol).

Various mechanisms have been proposed for the production of the oxide lobe during aluminum combustion. King [7] proposed a simplified model whereby the AlO produced in the flame diffused back to the particle surface, and under collision-limited conditions, reacted with it to produce liquid alumina. Glorian et al. developed a model using ab initio calculations for combustion simulations of a burning droplet of aluminum, and they gave b = 0.7.

Chronic inhalation of aluminium oxide has been shown to induce pulmonary inflammation in rats and hamsters, characterized by proliferation of macrophages within the alveolar walls and lipoid pneumonia. This is thought to be due to oxidative damage to lung cells by free radicals released during the combustion of aluminium oxide.

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