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ALUMINIUM

INTRODUCTION
This PowerPoint presentation aims to give A-level students knowledge of the
topic Aluminium, for those who are already achieving in this subject and
those who are not performing up to their standards. In this presentation the
presenters wish to give every A-level student a better understanding on
what CXC CAPE Chemistry wants you to know about the element Aluminium
at this level and how to approach questions relating to Aluminium specific
to the objectives given by the syllabus. Relevant theory and explanation of
results is described for each objective which is accompanied by a worked
examples and past paper questions.

SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
2.1. Describe the processes involved in the production of Aluminium from its ores
Explanatory Notes: Purification of the ores most be included. The Syllabus does not require
any technical details.
High energy consumption in the production of Aluminium most also be
accounted for.
2.2. Explain the uses of Aluminium in relation to its physical and chemical properties;
Explanatory Notes: Relate its physical and chemical properties to its uses.
2.3. Assess the IMPACT of Aluminium industry on the environment;
Explanatory Notes:

2.1. DESCRIBE THE PROCESSES INVOLVED IN THE


PRODUCTION OF ALUMINIUM FROM ITS ORES

Aluminium ore
The usual Aluminium ore is bauxite. Bauxite is essentially an impure
aluminium oxide. The major impurities include iron oxides, silicon dioxide and
titanium dioxide
Purifying the Aluminium oxide - the Bayer Process
Reaction with sodium hydroxide solution
Crushed bauxite is treated with concentrated sodium hydroxide solution
which dissolves the Aluminium oxide and silicon (IV) oxide. The concentration,
temperature and pressure used depend on the source of the bauxite and
exactly what form of Aluminium oxide it contains. Temperatures are typically
from 140C to 240C; pressures can be up to about 35 atmospheres.

REACTION WITH SODIUM HYDROXIDE CONTD

High pressures are necessary to keep the water in the sodium hydroxide solution liquid at
temperatures above 100C. The higher the temperature, the higher the pressure needed.
With hot concentrated sodium hydroxide solution, Aluminium oxide reacts to give a solution of
sodium tetrahydroxoaluminate.
Al2O3 + 2NaOH + 3H2O 2NaAl(OH)4
The iron (III) oxide and other basic materials remain undissolved and are removed by
filtration. The residue is highly toxic and red-brown in colour due the presence of iron (III)
oxide.

Precipitation of Aluminium hydroxide


The sodium tetrahydroxoaluminate solution is cooled, and
extracted, then Carbon Dioxide is blown through the
solution to precipitate Aluminium Hydroxide.
NaAl(OH)4 Al(OH)3 + NaOH
Formation of pure Aluminium oxide
The Aluminium Hydroxide is filtered, washed and heated at
temperatures between 1100-1200 degree to form pure
Aluminium oxide (Alumina), Al2O3.
2Al(OH)3 Al2O3 + 3H2O

The Aluminium oxide is electrolyzed in solution of molten cryolite,


(Na3AlF6) and fluorspar (CaF2) to obtain Aluminium, this is known as
smelting. Cryolite and Fluorspar help to lower the melting point of Alumina
from 2050 to 950 degrees which makes the production of Aluminium more
practical.

FIGURE 1.1 SHOWS THE ILLUSTRATES THE PRODUCTION OF ALUMINIUM FORM


ALUMINA

Looking at Figure 1.1 the cell itself is made of steel lined with graphite which acts as the cathode
and the molten electrolyte and graphite anodes suspended in the electrolyte.
Molten Aluminium is syphoned out of the cell from time to time, and new Aluminium oxide added
at the top. The cell operates at a low voltage of about 5 - 6 volts, but at huge currents of
100,000 amps or more. The heating effect of these large currents keeps the cell at a
temperature of about 900-1000C.

The electrode reactions


The reaction that takes place is complicated so it will be simplified to suit the students needs
Aluminium is released at the carbon cathode (-) lining the steel container. Aluminium ions are
reduced by gaining 3 electrons.
Al3+ 3e- Al
Oxygen is produced initially at the anode (+).
2x (O2- O + 2e-)
Aluminium will not mix with the electrolyte and because it is heavier than the electrolyte and it
will sink to the bottom of the cell. This can later be tapped off and collected as pure liquid
Aluminium. However, at these temperature of the cell, the carbon anodes burn in oxygen to give
carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Continual replacement of the anodes is a major expense.

2.2. EXPLAIN THE USES OF ALUMINIUM IN RELATION TO


ITS PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES
Aluminium is used for

PROPERTIES

Making parts for Aircraft and rockets

Low density , strong, resists corrosion

Used for coating firefighters garments

Good reflector of radiant heat and light

Making overhead power cables

low density, resists corrosion, good conductor of electricity

Making cooking Utensils

light, resists corrosion, good appearance, good conductor of heat

ALSO USED IT IS
FOR:

Wrapping premature babies


due to its insulating
properties
Its low density and
resistance to corrosion
makes Aluminium foil paper
suitable for packaging food
products

2.3. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF ALUMINIUM INDUSTRY ON


THE ENVIRONMENT
Economic issues

The high cost of the process because of the huge amounts of electricity it uses. This is so high ,because to produce 1 mole of Aluminium
which only weighs 27 g you need 3 moles of electrons. You are having to add a lot of electrons (because of the high charge on the ion) to
produce a small mass of Aluminium (because of its low relative atomic mass).

Energy and material costs in constantly replacing the anodes.

Energy and material costs in producing the Cryolite, some of which gets lost during the electrolysis.

Environmental problems in mining and transporting the bauxite

Loss of landscape due to mining, processing and transporting the bauxite.

Greenhouse gases also escaped during the production of Aluminium one significant example is the fluoride gas produce from electrolysis
of the Aluminium ore. which can escaped the production and enter the environment and although at low concentrations it is not
dangerous when it accumulates to large amounts it can be damaging to the environment. If you are ask how fluoride affects the
environment this is a good way of responding. If the examiner ask what symptoms are associated when fluoride is ingested you can
respond by saying it causes Anaemia, respiratory distress, stiffness in the knees and joints and dental mottling. Dental mottling or mottled
enamel is the hypo mineralization of the tooth enamel caused by ingesting excessive amounts of fluoride during enamel formation.
Causes immense degrees of intrinsic tooth discoloration. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the earths atmosphere
thus increasing the temperature which leads to global warming. Carbon monoxide is very dangerous and also known as the silent killer. It
has no scent and when inhaled it can affect the respiratory and circulatory system. It can replace oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
remain bonded to that blood cell throughout the body

The caustic residue is sometimes grounded and recycled in making construction materials, but when it is grounded, the caustic residue
can enter underground water. This can disrupt the pH of the water reservoirs causing marine animals to flee the area which later on
affects fishing industries.

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