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Aluminum oxide is a chemical compound made of atoms of aluminium and oxygen. It can be found in bauxite, corundum and rubies.
Aluminium oxide has many uses including as a fire retardant and smoke suppressor, and in the manufacture of glass. It is also used in the production of adsorbents and catalysts.
Metal oxides are typically basic in nature but aluminium oxide is amphoteric meaning it reacts with both acids and bases. For example, it reacts with hot dilute hydrochloric acid to produce aluminium chloride solution.
Non-metal oxides are typically weakly acidic but some of them react with bases such as sodium hydroxide to form salts. These salts can be neutralised by aluminum oxide to give aluminium ions and water.
When dissolved in water, oxides will react with hydrogen ions to form acidic solutions. Some of them will also react with oxygen to form nitric acid and other gases.
During this process, the nitric acid and the oxygen atoms will displace hydrogen ions from the water molecules and form a new compound with two nitrate ions. The reaction can be described by the following equation:
Aluminum oxide is not reactive like other oxides such as sodium oxide or magnesium oxide because the ions it contains are held tightly in the solid lattice. It does, however, show amphoteric properties and reacts with acid in the same way as sodium oxide and magnesium oxide do.