We can say that this material is safe, considering its wide variety of usage. However, how far can this metal be considered safe and what type of industry usually uses it? Is there any precautionary preparation needed in handling this material? This article will give you a quick glance at everything you need to know about aluminium oxide and its use in various industries.
Despite its metallic name, this aluminium is more considered as a ceramic. This is due to the unique properties that make it a little bit different from other metals. Here are some of the properties of this unique metal.
1. General Properties
As mentioned previously, this aluminium has a white and powdery form with no odor. While it is generally non-toxic, the airborne dust of this material is considered an industrial hazard. Therefore, people handling this material especially for prolonged exposure are recommended to wear masks. In terms of weight, this metal compound is considered very heavy. That is because a one-meter cube of this material can weigh around 7,200 lbs.
2. Industrial Properties
For industrial purposes, this type of aluminium can be molded into hard and wear-resistant materials. That is one of the reasons why this material is highly versatile for various industries. Some commonly used materials that use this material as one of the components or elements are wire guides, metering devices, machinery sears, and high-temperature electrical insulators.
3. Chemical Properties
In terms of chemical properties, this metal does not dissolve in water with very high melting points as well as boiling points. The melting and boiling points are 2,000 C and 5,400 C respectively. That is why this compound is commonly used in various industries.
The chemical formula is a combination of two aluminium atoms and three oxygen atoms. Thus it is expressed as AI2O3 and is read as aluminium trioxide, although it was commonly called aluminium oxide. Unlike its family, aluminium, this metal is an electrical resistor. The resistance level of this compound changes with its purity.
This metal doesn’t react with most materials, however, you need to be careful with two others such as ethylene oxide and chlorine trifluoride. This chemical compound is highly reactive to these two materials which mixing it with either of these chemicals can cause a fire.
4. Mechanical Properties
Last but not least is the mechanical properties. As mentioned previously, this type of aluminium is very hard and even almost as hard as diamonds. That is why it is highly resistant. It also has a high endurance to corrosion and high-temperature stability.
This metal compound also has low thermal expansion and a great stiffness-to-weight ratio. These properties making this material have plenty of use in the various industrial fields. Combined with its capability as a wonderful electrical resistor, this material is often used as a dielectric in capacitors.
How Safe is This Chemical to Humans?
Aluminium is a naturally abundant metal on our planet and it is usually in the form of aluminium oxide or bauxite. It is formed when aluminium is exposed to air and forms a thin layer over it. This is why aluminium oxide is resistant to corrosion.
This metal can be considered safe because it tends to not cause toxic responses. However, chronic exposure can still cause health irritation or some more serious health issues. Despite that, there is almost no chronic exposure that happens in today’s industry.
Apart from skin irritation and general slight chronic toxicity, there is almost no acute toxicity occurring. That is one of the reasons why this metal compound is the most common choice in advanced ceramics production. However, it is important to keep using protective equipment such as masks to avoid inhaling the dust and gloves to prevent skin irritation.
Various Use of Aluminium Oxide
As mentioned previously, this metal compound is used in a wide variety of industries. Here are some of them:
1. Medical industry
In addition to its chemical properties, its bio-inertness and hardness make this metal compound perfect to use in the medical field. Some of the implementations in this field are prostheses, hip replacement bearing, bionic implants, tissue reinforcement, and so on.
2. Protective Equipment
This type of aluminium is lightweight but has good strength. Its hardness also makes this metal considered a good choice to enhance the body and vehicle armor. In fact, it is also used in synthetic-sapphire bulletproof ballistics and windows.
3. Electrical industry
As previously mentioned, aluminium oxide has a high boiling point and melting point. This makes it a great material for high-temperature furnace insulation and also used as an electrical insulator. This material is also used in the microchip industry.
4. Gem industry
Another use of this metal is for the formation process of certain gems such as rubies and sapphires. The base element of these two precious gems is corundum, the crystalline form of this metal.
5. Industrial application
As you may have guessed, this aluminium is also used in industrial applications. Since it is chemically inert, this material is perfect as filler for bricks, plastics, and also as heavy clayware. It is also commonly used in sandpaper for the abrasive side.
This metal is also known for its hardness that is almost at a similar level to diamonds. That is one of the reasons why this compound is also used as an economical replacement for industrial diamonds.
Due to its great properties, aluminium oxide is well known and widely used in several industries. While it is generally non-toxic, it is important to watch the exposure since high exposure to this chemical compound still can cause irritation. People who constantly work with this substance should wear masks or gloves to protect the skin and to avoid breathing in the dust.