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Aluminium oxide is a very important inorganic chemical substance. It is produced by the direct reaction of aluminium with oxygen. This compound can be found in various crystalline forms, which vary in colour and texture. It is commonly used as a pigment in paints, but it also finds its way into many other products such as body armour and bulletproof windows. It is also extremely strong yet light in weight. It is also often used in refractory materials for furnaces, kilns and other high temperature equipment.
Aluminium is the most abundant element in nature, but it does not occur in its pure form. It is usually combined with other elements such as oxygen, silicon and fluorine to create a variety of compounds. Aluminium oxide is the most commonly used of these compounds. The chemical equation of aluminium oxide is Al2O3. Two atoms of aluminium combine with two atoms of oxygen to produce this whitish solid. It is insoluble in water and most other solvents. It can be a powder or a hard, brittle crystalline form known as corundum. It is the most widely used ceramic material and has very good electrical, thermal and mechanical properties.
This compound is soluble in dilute acids such as sulfuric, hydrochloric and nitric acid. The reaction with these acids produces the corresponding salts, such as aluminum sulfate Al2SO4, aluminum chloride AlCl3 and aluminum nitrate Al(NO3)3. It is highly reactive in air and readily oxidizes to give off gaseous aluminium oxide. It is toxic to the eyes and upper respiratory tract. Acute inhalation of aluminium oxide particles at concentrations up to 0.38 mg/L (380 or 580 mg/cubic meter) for 30 minutes caused lung dilatory effect in guinea pigs.