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alumina

alumina (əlōˈmĭnə) [key] or aluminum oxide, Al2O3, chemical compound with m.p. about 2,000°C and sp. gr. about 4.0. It is insoluble in water and organic liquids and very slightly soluble in strong acids and alkalies. Alumina occurs in two crystalline forms. Alpha alumina is composed of colorless hexagonal crystals with the properties given above; gamma alumina is composed of minute colorless cubic crystals with sp. gr. about 3.6 that are transformed to the alpha form at high temperatures. Alumina powder is formed by crushing crystalline alumina; it is white when pure. Alumina is widely distributed in nature. Combined with silica and other minerals it occurs in clays, feldspars, and micas. It is the major component of bauxite and occurs in an almost pure form as corundum. Alumina is commercially important. A major use is in the production of aluminum metal. It is also used for abrasives; corundum and emery are widely used, as are artificially prepared alumina abrasives. Trade names for alumina abrasives include Alundum and Aloxite. Alumina is also used in ceramics, in pigments, and in the manufacture of chemicals. Clays containing alumina are used in porcelain, pottery, and bricks. Pure alumina is used in making crucibles and other refractory apparatus. Hydrated alumina is used in mordant dyeing to make lake pigments; it is also used in glassmaking, in cosmetics, and in medicine as an antacid.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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