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Aluminum carbide

The molecular formula of Al4C3 is used to describe this inorganic compound. Aluminum carbide comes as a hygroscopic yellow or greenish grey crystal block or powder. Aluminum carbide powder decomposes in high temperature water and is then dissolved into aluminum hydroxide and methane.

The preparation of aluminum carbide

Aluminum carbide is produced by heating alumina with coke in a furnace. Aluminum carbide Al4C3 comes from the direct combination of two metals at high temperature.

Then, spread carbon powder over the top of a tightly packed layer of heavy smoke black, 6 parts aluminum powder and pine essential oil. Cover the crucible with a lid. Fill in all gaps with refractory dirt mixed with asbestos fibres. After pre-drying the mixture, it is then fired in an oven at 1200degC. Higher temperatures can help the reaction to proceed.

After cooling, the product will be treated with diluted alkaline or hydrochloric acids to remove excess aluminium. After obtaining the aluminum carbide as a fine powder, it is washed to remove aluminum chloride with water. Alcohol is then used to quickly wash away the water. The product is then dried in a box set at a temperature between 80 and 90degC. The product contains an excessive amount of aluminum chloride.

Aluminum carbide itself is colorless. However, the products that are made using the above method can have different colors because of impurities.

A pure product free of aluminum nitride is obtained when the calculated quantity of aluminum and soot mixtures are calcined with hydrogen. This calcination is carried out between 1800degC and 1900degC, for 2 to 3-hours. The resultant material is ground, and then calcined once more at the mentioned temperature.

Aluminum Carbide Application

Aluminum carbide has many applications, including in the production of methane and catalysts. Other typical uses of aluminum carbide are:

1. When combined with silicon carbide, the finely distributed aluminum carbide in the aluminum matrix reduces the tendency of material to creep.

2. The aluminum-aluminum carbide composite material can be produced by grinding graphite and aluminum powder together.

3. Aluminum carbide may be used in high speed cutting tools. Its hardness is similar to that of topaz.

4. Aluminum carbide, used as a firework additive, can be used, for instance, to produce the appearance of fireflies.

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