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Name: Cuchy
Status: educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001 - 2002


Question:
I am looking for one or few solvents which dissolve AlCl3 without reacting with it, in order to produce solvated Al3+ ions for an electrochemical application.


Replies:
Because Al3+ reacts readily with water, I do not know of any common solvent that will dissolve AlCl3. In the commercial process, I believe that the Al salt is molten. I am sure you can find out on the Web just how it is done.

Vince Calder


I know of solvents that will dissolve AlCl3, but I don't know that the solute will dissociate into its ions. Basically, AlCl3 is a Lewis acid, so ethers, which are weakly Lewis basic, can dissolve it. Anhydrous ethyl ether or tetrahydrofuran would be good choices. Nitromethane also works.

If you want Al3+ ions in aqueous solution, your best bet is to use sulfate or, better yet, nitrate as the counterion. Those aluminum salts are actually soluble in water. Potassium alum, which is a sulfate salt of aluminum and potassium, is also water-soluble. Of course, if you want to do any redox chemistry on the Al3+ ion, you'll be in trouble, because water is more easily reduced than Al3+.

Another possibility is to use an "ionic liquid" solvent. There has been some work on systems of aluminum chloride in quaternary ammonium chlorides. Unfortunately for your objective, the aluminum chloride does not dissociate in these environments, but instead forms complex ions such as AlCl4- and Al2Cl7-. If you are interested in these systems, you can start by looking for papers by Robert Osteryoung, Research Professor of Chemistry at North Carolina State University (http://www2.ncsu.edu/ncsu/chemistry/rao.html).

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois



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