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Information @ a Glance

Introduction

  • Aluminium oxide is an amphoteric oxide of aluminium with the chemical formula Al2O3.\
  • Aluminium oxide is an electrical insulator but has a relatively high thermal conductivity (40 W/m K).
  • The most common form of crystalline alumina, a-aluminium oxide, is known as corundum.
  • Aluminium oxide is an excellent thermal and electrical insulator.

Process

  • Bauxite has to be processed into pure aluminium oxide (alumina) before it can be converted to aluminium by electrolysis.
  • Bauxite mining occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical areas in Latin America, South America, West and Central Africa, and Australia.
  • Bauxite cannot be used as the basic material for the production of metallic aluminium. Therefore, it must be refined into aluminium oxide (Al2O3).
  • This is done using the Bayer method, a process in which crushed and ground bauxite is dissolved in an alkaline water solution - the Bayer liquid.

Uses and Market

  • The major uses of speciality aluminium oxides are in refractories, ceramics, polishing and abrasive applications.
  • Aluminium oxide is also used in preparation of coating suspensions in compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Minor uses include use in toothpast formulations, and as a medium for chromatography.
  • Its applications are widespread, and include spark plugs, tap washers, pump seals, electronic substrates, grinding media, abrasion resistant tiles, cutting tools, bioceramics, (hip-joints), body armour, laboratory ware and wear parts for the textile and paper industries.
  • Annual world production of aluminia is approximately 60 million tonnes, over 90% of which is used in the manufacture of aluminium metal.

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