Anhydrous aluminium chloride, often known as AlCl3, is an odourless, white or yellow crystalline material that reacts quickly with water to produce hydrogen chloride or HCl gas. AlCl3 will also quickly sublime to form hydrogen chloride gas around 178 degrees Celsius. The solid product and the gas byproduct are highly harmful to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Even though AlCl3 is not combustible, standard ABC or BC extinguishers must not be used.
This paper will discuss the formation of Aluminium Chloride and cover the essential details on Aluminium Chloride Preparation and its usage with examples.
Aluminium chloride (AlCl3) refers to a chemical compound called AlCl3 (H2O) n, where n = 0 or 6. They are made up of aluminium and chlorine molecules in a 1:3 ratio, and one version also contains six hydration fluids. Both of these are white solids, but samples are frequently contaminated by iron chloride, which causes them to turn yellow.
Commercially, anhydrous material is significant. This has a low melting point and a high boiling point. It is primarily manufactured and used in the manufacture of aluminium metal, although it is also utilised extensively in other sectors of the chemical process industries. This chemical is mainly referred to as a ‘Lewis acid’. This is an example of an artificial chemical that, at low temperatures, reversibly converts from polymers to monomers.
Factors such as temperature and condition, AlCl3 takes on one of three structures: solid, liquid, and gas. Solid AlCl3 is composed of ‘layered cubic close-packed sheets’. The Al centres in this framework have octahedral coordination geometry. Yttrium chloride, like many other compounds, has the same structure. When aluminium trichloride is melted, it forms as the dimer Al2Cl6, which contains tetra coordinate aluminium. This structural alteration is due to the reduced volume of the liquid phase compared to solid aluminium trichloride. Dimers of Al2Cl6 can also be found in the vapour phase. At extremely high temperatures, the ‘Al2Cl6 dimers’ dissolve, forming ‘trigonal planar AlCl3‘, which is similar to BF3. But unlike halides such as sodium chloride, the liquid conducts electricity poorly.
Aluminium Chloride Preparation
Aluminium chloride is white, but specimens are frequently contaminated by iron trichloride, which turns it yellow. The melting and boiling points of the solid are both low. It is primarily manufactured and used in the manufacturing of aluminium metal, although it is also utilised extensively in other chemical industry sectors. This chemical is often referred to as a ‘Lewis acid’. Its most practical application in the chemical industry is as a catalyst.
When aluminium reacts with chlorine, aluminium chloride is formed. The reaction’s chemical equation is as follows:
2Al + 3Cl2 → 2AlCl3
Aluminium chloride is produced on a large scale through the ‘exothermic reaction’ of aluminium metal with hydrogen chloride or chlorine at temperatures ranging from ‘650° C to 750° C’.
2Al + 6HCl → 2AlCl3 + H2
Aluminium chloride can be created by combining copper chloride with aluminium metal in a single displacement reaction.
2Al + 3CuCl2 → 2AlCl3 + 3Cu
Use of Aluminium Chloride
In 1825, Hans Oersted produced metallic aluminium by heating aluminium chloride with elemental potassium. Colloidal aluminium hydroxide is generated when aluminium sulphate and lime are mixed in water, and it can concentrate and eliminate waterborne organic waste. This method of water clarification is widely used. Al-containing additives are also present in a wide range of foods. They are used as emulsifiers in manufacturing processed cheese, baking powder, as crunchy texture ingredients in pickles, and indifferent food colourations. Aluminium-containing compounds can also be found in cosmetics. Metal levels in commercial ‘infant formula’ blends can be significant.
Aluminium chloride is mainly used in manufacturing and industries. First and mainly, it is used in the manufacturing of aluminium, metalworking, and as a constituent in aluminium smelting. It is also used to produce petrochemicals such as ethylbenzene and alkylbenzene. Aluminium chloride is required as a component in certain medications. It is also used to manufacture synthetic rubber, paint, wood preservatives, lubricants, and some organic compounds. This is a multipurpose substance.
Safety measures in Aluminium Chloride
Aluminium chloride can be toxic to people, especially in its ‘anhydrous form’. It is highly corrosive, and therefore it can cause significant harm if inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with the skin. Inhalation can cause severe noise and trouble breathing, throat irritation, nausea, headache, and vomiting. If it goes into the eyes, it can cause severe eye discomfort and perhaps irreversible damage. Skin contact might cause significant irritability or burns. Ingestion can cause long-term disease.
Aluminium chloride is typically only encountered in a lab or industrial context. In these circumstances, facility managers must ensure that individuals are not exposed. When splashing is a risk, respiratory protection and adequate ventilation, chemical-resistant PVC gloves, face shields, chemical-proof goggles, boots, PVC aprons, etc. As a precaution, management should provide decontamination baths and eyewash stations.
Anhydrous aluminium chloride is a strong Lewis acid that may create a Lewis acid-based complexion with even weak Lewis bases like benzophenone and mesitylene. In the addition of chloride ions, it produces tetrachloroaluminate (AlCl4). In tetrahydrofuran, aluminium chloride interacts with magnesium and calcium hydrides to generate tetrahydridoaluminate. Though it may be dangerous to humans in its raw form, so be sure you understand how to defend yourself if you must use it.