Hydrolysis of aluminum carbide – equation and nature of the reaction
Interaction of aluminum carbide with water
Al₄C₃ is a binary compound of aluminum and carbon which is broken down quite easily by water (hydrolyzes) or by diluted solutions of acids.
Aluminum carbide is a quite hard substance and is often used as an abrasive material.
The compound is an odorless powder of a yellow-brown color. It is a heat-resistant substance with a melting point of over 2100 °С.
Obtaining aluminum carbide
Direct interaction of carbon with aluminum in arc furnaces:
4Al + 3C → Al₄C₃
Interaction of aluminum oxide with carbon at a temperature of 1800 °С:
2Al₂O₃ + 9C → Al₄C₃ + 6СО↑
Hydrolysis is a reaction that occurs between a substance and water, as a result the substance and water break down, and new compounds form. Al₄C₃ is a salt-like carbide, which is essentially the product of the displacement of the hydrogen atom in methane by metal atoms. So in its hydrolysis, reverse displacement easily occurs, and methane forms.
Equation of the aluminum carbide hydrolysis:
Al₄C₃ + 12H₂O → 4Al(OH)₃ ↓+ 3CH₄ ↑
The hydrolysis of aluminum carbide is an irreversible reaction.
When this reaction takes place, methane and aluminum hydroxide are released. This reaction is a simple method of obtaining methane in the laboratory. Click here to find easy experiments of obtaining different gases at home.