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EXPERIMENT VIII

ALUMINIUM AND ITS PROPERTIES

A. OBJECTIVE
Study the properties of aluminium metal and its compounds

B. INTRODUCTION

The history of the light metal industry, as that of many other industries in this century, is
one of notable and ever accelerating expansion and development. There are few people today
who are not familiar with at least some modern application of aluminium and its alloys. The
part it plays in our everyday life is such that it is difficult to realise that a century ago the metal
was still a comparative amity.

The excellent corrosion resistance of pure aluminium is largely due to its affinity for
oxygen; this results in the production of a very thin but tenacious oxide film which covers the
surface as soon as a freshly-cut piece of the metal is exposed to the atmosphere. This oxide
coating is of great significance in the production of practically every type of surface finish for
the metal. It is, of course, the basis of what is probably the most corrosion-resistant finish of
all, namely, that group of finishes which involves the technique of anodic oxidation in its
varied forms. Here, the natural film is, in effect, greatly thickened and strengthened by
electrochemical means. On the other hand, the tenacity of the natural oxide film is a serious
adverse factor in the production of other finishes, such as those based on electrodeposition, and
also, but to a lesser extent, the organic finishes, as it must be removed or transformed before
the alternative coating can be successfully applied. Special techniques have had to be evolved
to effect this. (Sheasby and Pinner, 2001)

The unique combinations of properties provided by aluminum and its alloys make
aluminum one of the most versatile, economical, and attractive metallic materials for a broad
range of usesfrom soft, highly ductile wrapping foil to the most demanding engineering
applications. Aluminum alloys are second only to steels in use as structural metals.

Aluminum has a density of only 2.7 g/cm3, approximately one-third as much as steel
(7.83 g/cm3). One cubic foot of steel weighs about 490 lb; a cubic foot of aluminum, only
about 170 lb. Such light weight, coupled with the high strength of some aluminum alloys
(exceeding that of structural steel), permits design and construction of strong, lightweight
structures that are particularly advantageous for anything that movesspace vehicles and
aircraft as well as all types of land- and water-borne vehicles.

Aluminum resists the kind of progressive oxidization that causes steel to rust away. The
exposed surface of aluminum combines with oxygen to form an inert aluminum oxide film only
a few ten-millionths of an inch thick, which blocks further oxidation. And, unlike iron rust, the
aluminum oxide film does not flake off to expose a fresh surface to further oxidation. If the
protective layer of aluminum is scratched, it will instantly reseal itself. The thin oxide layer
itself clings tightly to the metal and is colorless and transparentinvisible to the naked eye.
The discoloration and flaking of iron and steel rust do not occur on aluminum. (Prof.
Shakhashiri, 2000)

Aluminum surfaces can be highly reflective. Radiant energy, visible light, radiant heat,
and electromagnetic waves are efficiently reflected, while anodized and dark anodized surfaces
can be reflective or absorbent. The reflectance of polished aluminum, over a broad range of
wave lengths, leads to its selection for a variety of decorative and functional uses.

Aluminum typically displays excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, but specific
alloys have been developed with high degrees of electrical resistivity. These alloys are useful,
for example, in high-torque electric motors. Aluminum is often selected for its electrical
conductivity, which is nearly twice that of copper on an equivalent weight basis. The
requirements of high conductivity and mechanical strength can be met by use of long-line,
high-voltage, aluminum steel-cored reinforced transmission cable. The thermal conductivity of
aluminum alloys, about 50 to 60% that of copper, is advantageous in heat exchangers,
evaporators, electrically heated appliances and utensils, and automotive cylinder heads and
radiators. (Petrovic and Thomas, 2008)

Aluminum is nonferromagnetic, a property of importance in the electrical and


electronics industries. It is nonpyrophoric, which is important in applications involving
inflammable or explosive-materials handling or exposure. Aluminum is also non-toxic and is
routinely used in containers for food and beverages. It has an attractive appearance in its
natural finish, which can be soft and lustrous or bright and shiny. It can be virtually any color
or texture.

The ease with which aluminum may be fabricated into any form is one of its most
important assets. Often it can compete successfully with cheaper materials having a lower
degree of workability. The metal can be cast by any method known to foundrymen. It can be
rolled to any desired thickness down to foil thinner than paper. Aluminum sheet can be
stamped, drawn, spun, or roll formed. The metal also may be hammered or forged. Aluminum
wire, drawn from rolled rod, may be stranded into cable of any desired size and type. There is
almost no limit to the different profiles (shapes) in which the metal can be extruded. (Davis,
2001)

The Oxide Film

When a freshly formed aluminium metal surface is exposed to the atmosphere, it is


immediately covered with a thin film of oxide, and this oxide film quickly re-forms when
damaged. An important and beneficial feature of this oxide film is that its molecular volume is
stoichiometrically 1.5 times that of the metal used up in oxidation. This then means that the
oxide film is under compressive stress, and will not only cover the metal continuously, but can
cope with a certain amount of substrate deformation without rupturing. It is to this protective
surface layer that the aluminium industry owes its existence.

Reports of the structure of this low temperature, air-formed film have varied widely
although, in general, it is assumed to be amorphous, with the outer surface being a hydrated
aluminium oxide. At higher temperatures (above 4500C), crystalline -Al,03 is formed, and
then, in the molten state, a-Al,03 can occur.

The kinetics of oxide growth on pure aluminium are complex. The currently accepted
mechanism has been described recently by WeferS. 1 At ambient temperatures a limiting oxide
film thickness of 2 to 3 mn will be produced within one day; thermal oxidation is controlled by
diffusion of aluminium and oxygen ions at temperatures up to 400 oC and, in this temperature
range, asymptotically decaying rate laws are observed. However, when the temperature is
raised towards and above 450C, the exponential oxidation rate changes to a linear relationship
between weight gain and time. This change in mechanism represents crystallisation to -Al,03 ,
which will disrupt the continuity of the film. At temperatures above 500C, it has been
reported' that the preparation of the sheet, i.e. both metallurgical and surface roughness
features, can alter the oxidation kinetics. (Alloys and Kaufman, 2016)

C. EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS


Equipment: Materials:
1. Test tube 1. 0.1 M HCl solution
2. Beaker glass 2. Some pieces of metal Al
3. Bunsen burner 3. 0.1 M NaOH solution
4. 0.1 M HgCl2 solution
D. METHODS

Experiment A (Reaction with HCl)

Put 2ml dilute Add 3-4 Al metal If it isnt disssolve


Observe
HCl pieces in 5minutes, heat
carefully
Experiment B (Reaction with NaOH)

Put 2ml NaOH Add 3-4 Al metal If it isnt disssolve


Observe
aqueous pieces in 5minutes, heat
carefully
Experiment C (Reaction with Oxygen)

Put 3 pieces of aluminium metal in a glass and


drop HgCl2 solution
Allow a few minutes and wash it

Leave the aluminium metal in the open air

Record and observe the changes

E. OBSERVATION SHEET

Changes in experiment 1: When only reacted to HCl solution there wasnt significant
changes (no reaction occured) after 5 minutes of waiting, but when heated up to the bunsen
burner there was a reaction marked by the presence of bubbles (hydrogen gas)
Reaction: 2 Al (s) + 6 HCl (aq) 2 AlCl3 (aq) + 3 H2 (g)
Changes in experiment 2: When only reacted to NaOH solution there was reaction that
occured but was not really significant. There was formed few bubbles but after heated up to the
bunsen burner there was occured reaction marked by a lot of bubbles appeared rather than HCl
reactant.
Reaction : 2 Al (s) + 2 NaOH (aq) + 6 H2O (l) 2 [Al(OH)4]- (aq) + 3 H2 (g) + 2 Na+ (aq)

Changes in experiment 3: When aluminium metal was dropped by HgCl2 solution, a


top layer of aluminium was peeling off. After washed it with water, the peel of aluminium
metal was dissolved. And after leave it in open air, Al metal was forming fiber crystals.
Reaction: 2 Al2O3 (s) + 3 HgCl2 (aq) 2 Al (s) + 3 HgO (s) + 3 Cl2 (g)
4 Al (s) + 3 H2O (g) 2 Al2O3 (s)

F. DISCUSSION

Experiment 1
This experiment was to determined the properties of aluminium metal reacted with acid.
The acid solution that used was 0.1 M HCl 2 mL. When only reacted to HCl solution there
wasnt significant changes (no reaction occured) after 5 minutes of waiting, but when heated up
to the bunsen burner there was a reaction marked by the presence of bubbles (hydrogen gas).
The purpose of heating up was to accelerate the reaction between Al metal and HCl. The
hydrogen gas was produced of Al metal and HCl solution with the following equation:
2 Al (s) + 6 HCl (aq) 2 AlCl3 (aq) + 3 H2 (g)
This was similar to the theory that aluminium metal reacts with acids because
aluminium showing their alkalinity when reacted to acid due to aluminium amphoteric
properties and produce hydrogen gas (H2). The heating up process was to accelerate the
reaction due to increasing temperatures caused the increasing kinetic energy, and the possibility
of collisions effectiveness was also increased.
Aluminium was less reactive when reacted with acids compared to base, this was
because according to Lewis theory aluminium considered as lewis acid (aluminium had empty
orbital that can accepts electron pair). Another reason was note that aluminium had protective
oxide layer that made it appeared to be less reactive than it really was.

Experiment 2
This experiment was to determined the properties of aluminium metal reacts with base.
The base solution that used was 0.1 M NaOH 2 ml. When only reacted to NaOH solution there
was reaction that occured but was not really significant. There was formed few bubbles but
after heated up to the bunsen burner there was occured reaction marked by a lot of bubbles
appeared rather than HCl reactant. Same as the acid experiment, the purpose of heating up was
to accelerate the reaction between Al metal and NaOH. The hydrogen gas was produced of Al
metal and NaOH solution with the following equation:
2 Al (s) + 2 NaOH (aq) + 6 H2O (l) 2 [Al(OH)4]Na (aq) + 3 H2 (g)
It can be seen that beside the reaction produced hydrogen gas it also produced colorless
complex compound which was sodium tetrahydroxoaluminate (III). The ability to formed
complex compound was due to high cation charge so it can be accomodated the electron pair
donation from the ligand. It was associated with solvation energy (especially hydration in
aqueous solution) which means water molecule bond (in coordination bond) was strong enough
to cations so there may be unimportant as complex compound.
After 5 minutes of waiting, the next process was to heating up the Al metal and NaOH
reaction to the bunsen burner. The increasing temperature cause the kinetic energy also raised
up and produced a lot of bubbles (H 2) compared to HCl reactant. This is similar to theory that
aluminium can be reacted with base because one of their properties of aluminium is
amphoteric, so aluminium showing their acidic character when reacts to base and produced
hydrogen gas.

Experiment 3
This experiment was to determined the aluminium reaction with oxygen (open air). This
experiment was carried out by reacting aluminium metal with HgCl2. When aluminium metal
was dropped by HgCl2 solution, a top layer of aluminium was peeling off. After washed it with
water, the peel of aluminium metal was dissolved. And after leave it in open air, Al metal was
forming fiber crystals.
The purpose addition of HgCl2 solution was to remove the protective surface layer of
alumina that otherwise protects the aluminium from routine oxidation (as many other
substances do). Once the reaction had started no further protective layer formed so even minor
defects in the protective alumina layer lead to runaway disruption that allowed further reaction.
Small physical effects in the alumina were usually fixed in air, but wont heal when other
reactions were occured. The peeled layer was known as Al2O3 with the following reaction:
2 Al2O3 (s) + 3 HgCl2 (aq) 2 Al (s) + 3 HgO (s) + 3 Cl2 (g)
The purpose of washing Al metal with water was to eliminated HgO that may still stuck
in aluminium metal. After the aluminium metal had not coated with protective layer, then
aluminium metal reacted with oxygen in the open air. It was not long enough that the
surrounding of aluminium metal was covered by fibers crystal like needles with the following
reaction:
4 Al (s) + 3 H2O (g) 2 Al2O3 (s)
The white fiber crystal (oxide film) was reformed after it was left in the open air, this
was due to the one of the aluminiums properties that was easily to oxidized. When a freshly
formed aluminium metal surface is exposed to the atmosphere, it is immediately covered with a
thin film of oxide, and this oxide film quickly re-forms when damaged.

G. ANSWERS OF QUESTION

Experiment 1
Why is Al a bit slow to react, whereas a negative value reduction potential?
Answer: Although Al metal has negative reduction potential, it is difficult to oxidized
because there is protective layer oxide that protects Al metal from any reaction.
Without the use of indicators, explain how the nature of the solution occurs.
Explain why this is so?
Answer: solution properties which occurs when the metal Al reacts with HCl is acidic
which form a solution of Al(Cl)3 which has a pH of about 2-3

Experiment 2
What gas is formed? Compare with the result of the experiment, which obtained
more?
Answer: The formed gas is hydrogen (H2). Compared to first experiment, it can be seen
that aluminium is more likely react with alkaline condition than the acid one. It is proved by the
presence of bubbles (hydrogen gas) in the second experiment rather than the first one.
Why the pan made with Al may not be washed wisth soda (Na 2CO3)? Explain by
showing the reaction!
Answer: Pan that is made out of aluminium should not be washed by Na 2CO3 because it
will be generated solution that is able to precipitate Al(OH)3 and will provide high
concentration of OH-. Whereas sodium carbonate is compound that is corrosion. Reaction:
CO32- (aq) + H2O (l) HCO3- (aq) + 3 OH- (aq)

Experiment 3
Why HgCl2 solution is able to clean the surface of the aluminium effectively?
Answer: It was because mercury salts disrupt the oxide layer from aluminium metal.
The process of Al Al3+ and O2 is endothermic. Why it formed Al2O3 and explain
why these substances are very stable?
Answer: Al2O3 formed because Al reacts with air to form a thin oxide layer, which
protects further of Al2O3. Al2O3 is stable because it is difficult to react with the open air as well
as difficult to react with aqueous and concentrated acidic/ basic solution.
Give some example of the use of metallic Al. Explain and state the nature of Al
which determined its use for various appliances!
Answer: usability based on properties:
a) Aluminum is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, non-toxic and so shake used as materials
for household items such as pans, pots, etc.
b) electrical conductivity two times faster than Cu, so that Al is used as a power cable
reflective, in the form of aluminum foil that can be used for packaging food, medicine
wrappers and cigarette wrappers
c) aluminum alloy produces very strong alloys such as Duralium (mixture of Al, Cu and
Mg) used for the manufacture of airframe
d) aluminum as a reductant agent MnO2 and Cr2O3

H. CONCLUSION
One of the properties of Aluminium metal is amphoteric, it means that aluminium can
reacts with both of acidic and alkaline solution. For example, aluminium reacts with both
hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide to produce hydrogen gas. Aluminium has thin yet
stable oxide film who covers aluminium surface and this oxide film quickly re-forms when
damaged. The oxide film is under compressive stress, and will not only cover the metal
continuously, but can cope with a certain amount of substrate deformation without rupturing. It
is to this protective surface layer that the aluminium industry owes its existence.

I. SUGGESTION

1. To get various result of aluminium and its properties experiment, you can change acid
and base solutions beside HCl and NaOH. For example: H2SO4 or Ba(OH)2/ KOH
2. To get another various results, you can compare the experiments result by using Al
metal and aluminium foil as feedstocks.

J. REFERENCES

Alloys, A. and Kaufman, J. G. (2016) Properties and Aluminum and Aluminium Alloys'
Davis, J. R. (2001) Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys, Light Metals and alloys, p. 66.
Petrovic, J. and Thomas, G. (2008) Reaction of aluminum with water to produce
hydrogen, US Department of Energy, pp. 126.
Prof. Shakhashiri (2000) Chemical of the week Aluminium, General Chemistry, 2(l),
pp. 23.
Sheasby, P. G. and Pinner, R. (2001) Introduction: Aluminium , Its Properties , Alloys
and Finishes, Metal Finishing, pp. 435450.