Aluminum carbide is an ionic compound formed from aluminium and carbon. It is an important compound in the aluminum metal industry. Al4C3 is the primary reaction product.
Aluminum carbide is produced commercially by heating a mixture of elements above 1000 degC in an electric furnace. This process produces an aerosol that is used as a drying agent and catalyst. The residue can be recycled into an arc furnace.
Aluminum carbide can be made from pure aluminum or alloyed with other elements. An alloy can be produced from pure aluminum by fractional crystallization and then treated with sodium.
Carbide compounds are extremely hard, refractory and resistant to wear. There are three types of carbide: boron, silicon, and aluminum. Each has a specific chemical formula. Other common metals, such as gallium, do not form carbide compounds.
Aluminum carbide can be manufactured by combining aluminum with carbon in a crucible. The crucible is heated to a predetermined temperature. Methane is then released from the slag. These materials are then mixed with graphite particles to form an aluminum carbide composite material.
The crystalline structure of aluminum carbide is diamond-hexahedral. When it is exposed to moist air, the crystals begin to decompose. However, it is stable up to 1400 degC. If aluminum carbide is stored in water, it will decompose slowly, producing methane.
In addition to its uses as a catalyst, aluminum carbide is also used in the chemical industry. Specifically, it is used in the reduction of metal oxides. Another application of aluminum carbide is in high-speed cutting tools.