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Thread: Which is the Cheaper Input: Pure Aluminum or Al2O3?

  1. #1 Which is the Cheaper Input: Pure Aluminum or Al2O3? 
    Forum Freshman
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    Hi:

    I am considering a possible commercial application where the starting material is either pure (defined as over 95%) Al or Al2O3 and other lower cost ingredients.

    My limited research indicates that pure Al2O3 is much more expensive than pure Aluminum.

    Is this correct? Or a quantity of ordering problem, or the higher associated cost of creating pure Al2O3, or a bad supplier for Al2O3?

    Thanks for any help.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Commercially pure aluminum is over 99% pure so 95% is nowhere near pure. Alumina is the starting point for the production of aluminum so it's hard to see how alumina can be more expensive than aluminum, unless you are referring to really high purity alumina such as is made by Coors. The starting material cost is only one factor. What's the end product?


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  4. #3  
    Forum Ph.D.
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    plain old Al foil is pure Al.
    elemental Al and the oxide have radically different properties,what are you trying to do that they are interchangeable?
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  5. #4  
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    To answer a question, the process employing pure Al2O3 would use a carbo-thermal reduction reaction. The other process would directly employ the metal Al.

    Other possible reasons occurred to me as well. Add to the list, there is a highly competitive market in the Al metal given its demand, and also there exist an active secondary market (recycling).

    This may be in contrast to the pure Al2O3 business with much less competition, lower demand and no secondary market.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    the process employing pure Al2O3 would use a carbo-thermal reduction reaction
    So producing syngas and aluminum from alumina and a fossil fuel? Interesting and perhaps a big improvement in energy efficiency over conventional aluminum production. But then the "other" process starts with aluminum so you are doing something completely different. I don't see how the price of aluminum versus alumina is relevant when in one case you are consuming aluminum and in the other case you are making it.

    Unless you are building a chemical looping reactor - aha that's it! Then you could use either the metal or the oxide as the starting point. Copper and iron are more usual, but maybe aluminum could work too.
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