Aluminum oxide, a chemical compound of oxygen and alluminum is a commonly occurring oxide. It is known by its chemical formula as Al2O3 and identified as aluminium (III) oxide. Depending on applications and particular forms, they are also known as alumina, aloxite, aloxide and alundum. It occurs in its crystalline polymorphic form comprising mineral corundum by which various precious gems such as sapphire and ruby are formed. Aluminum oxide is an electric insulator. It has relatively high thermal conductivity for ceramic material. Al2O3 is soluble in water and very slightly soluble in alkali and acids. It is used as a component in cutting tool and as an abrasive. It is known for its resistance of metallic aluminium to weathering. Aluminum oxide is also a widely used phosphate remover. Aluminum in the form of both salts and solid alumina, removes phosphate from aqueous solutions.
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Aluminum oxide is available in the market in the form of powder, pellets, pieces, sputtering targets, nanoparticles and tablets. Aluminum nanoparticles are being used on a large scale as compared to bulk materials due to its enhanced properties. The physical appearance of nanoparticles is spherical in the form of white powder. These particles in liquid and solid form are inflammable and irritant to the respiratory tract. The benefits of aluminum oxide nanoparticles include toughness, electricity conductivity, ductility and increased strength and hardness of metals and alloys. Alumina nanoparticles are manufactured using laser ablation of an aluminium target in deionized water.
The various application areas of aluminum oxide include pharmaceutical and industrial manufacturing processes among others. It is used as an adsorbent, catalyst, desiccating agent, used in manufacture of dental cement, as a dispersing agent in food, as an abrasive in toothpaste and also has uses in hemodialysis. Other applications include fillers for plastics, purifier to remove water from gas streams and for reflective decorative effects and paints. In addition it is used as a medium of chromatography in sodium vapor lamps, to make spark plug insulators, as a material in hip replacements and also used in compact fluorescent lamps. Aluminum oxide has high demand as a biomaterial for medical transplants in the market.
Growing pharmaceutical industry along with rising demand for aluminum oxide from other applications in the industry is expected to be the major driver for aluminum oxide. The growing demand from ceramic industries to manufacture porous ceramics is also expected to boost demand for aluminum oxide in the near future. However, exposure to aluminum oxide causing health concerns is expected to be the major restraining factor for the growth of aluminum oxide market. Aluminum oxide is not a human carcinogen but is noted to develop severe pulmonary reactions such as fibrosis, pneumothorax and emphysema. Short-term exposure to aluminum oxide may cause upper respiratory tract and eye irritation. Long-term exposure may affect the central nervous system.
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Asia Pacific and North America is expected to be the largest consumers of aluminum oxide owing to the growing pharmaceutical industries in Asia Pacific and increasing use of aluminum for ceramic works in North America. Some of the major players profiled for aluminum oxide market include: Almatis, Chemicals India Company, Khambhalay Abrasive, Tirupati Industries, Snam Abrasives Pvt. Ltd, MTC Wesgo, Nivaka Pharmaceuticals Industries, SASOL, GRACE, GIFA, Russel and Vega among others.
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