Aluminium chloride (AlCl3), also known as aluminium trichloride, describe compounds with the formula AlCl3(H2O)n (n = 0 or 6). They consist of aluminium and chlorine atoms in a 1:3 ratio, and one form also contains six waters of hydration. Both are white solids, but samples are often contaminated with iron(III) chloride, giving a yellow color.
3D model (JSmol)
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||133.341 g/mol (anhydrous)|
241.432 g/mol (hexahydrate)
|Appearance||white or pale yellow solid,|
|Density||2.48 g/cm3 (anhydrous)|
2.398 g/cm3 (hexahydrate)
|Melting point|| 180 °C (356 °F; 453 K)|
100 °C (212 °F; 373 K)
|439 g/l (0 °C)|
449 g/l (10 °C)
458 g/l (20 °C)
466 g/l (30 °C)
473 g/l (40 °C)
481 g/l (60 °C)
486 g/l (80 °C)
490 g/l (100 °C)
|Solubility||soluble in hydrogen chloride, ethanol, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride |
slightly soluble in benzene
|Vapor pressure||133.3 Pa (99 °C)|
13.3 kPa (151 °C)
|Viscosity||0.35 cP (197 °C)|
0.26 cP (237 °C)
|C12/m1, No. 12|
a = 0.591 nm, b = 0.591 nm, c = 1.752 nm
Lattice volume (V)
Formula units (Z)
Heat capacity (C)
Std enthalpy of
Gibbs free energy (ΔfG˚)
|Safety data sheet||See: data page|
|GHS Signal word||Danger|
|P280, P310, P305+351+338|
|NFPA 704 (fire diamond)|
|Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):|
LD50 (median dose)
380 mg/kg, rat (oral)
3311 mg/kg, rat (oral)
|NIOSH (US health exposure limits):|
IDLH (Immediate danger)
Related Lewis acids
|Supplementary data page|
|Refractive index (n),|
Dielectric constant (εr), etc.
|UV, IR, NMR, MS|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|what is ?)(|
The anhydrous material is important commercially. It has a low melting and boiling point. It is mainly produced and consumed in the production of aluminium metal, but large amounts are also used in other areas of the chemical industry. The compound is often cited as a Lewis acid. It is an example of an inorganic compound that reversibly changes from a polymer to a monomer at mild temperature.
Alkylation and acylation of arenesEdit
AlCl3 is a common Lewis-acid catalyst for Friedel–Crafts reactions, both acylations and alkylations. Important products are detergents and ethylbenzene. These types of reactions are the major use for aluminium chloride, for example, in the preparation of anthraquinone (used in the dyestuffs industry) from benzene and phosgene. In the general Friedel–Crafts reaction, an acyl chloride or alkyl halide reacts with an aromatic system as shown:
The alkylation reaction is more widely used than the acylation reaction, although its practice is more technically demanding. For both reactions, the aluminium chloride, as well as other materials and the equipment, should be dry, although a trace of moisture is necessary for the reaction to proceed. Detailed procedures are available for alkylation and acylation of arenes.
A general problem with the Friedel–Crafts reaction is that the aluminium chloride catalyst sometimes is required in full stoichiometric quantities, because it complexes strongly with the products. This complication sometimes generates a large amount of corrosive waste. For these and similar reasons, the use of aluminium chloride has often been displaced by zeolites.
Aluminium chloride can also be used to introduce aldehyde groups onto aromatic rings, for example via the Gattermann-Koch reaction which uses carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride and a copper(I) chloride co-catalyst.
Other applications in organic and organometallic synthesisEdit
Aluminium chloride finds a wide variety of other applications in organic chemistry. For example, it can catalyse the "ene reaction", such as the addition of 3-buten-2-one (methyl vinyl ketone) to carvone:
Aluminium chloride combined with aluminium in the presence of an arene can be used to synthesize bis(arene) metal complexes, e.g. bis(benzene)chromium, from certain metal halides via the so-called Fischer-Hafner synthesis. Dichlorophenylphosphine is prepared by reaction of benzene and phosphorus trichloride catalyzed by aluminium chloride.
AlCl3 adopts three structures, depending on the temperature and the state (solid, liquid, gas). Solid AlCl3 is a sheet-like layered cubic close packed layers. In this framework, the Al centres exhibit octahedral coordination geometry. Yttrium(III) chloride adopts the same structure, as do a range of other compounds. When aluminium trichloride is in its melted state, it exists as the dimer Al2Cl6, with tetracoordinate aluminium. This change in structure is related to the lower density of the liquid phase (1.78 g/cm3) versus solid aluminium trichloride (2.48 g/cm3). Al2Cl6 dimers are also found in the vapour phase. At higher temperatures, the Al2Cl6 dimers dissociate into trigonal planar AlCl3, which is structurally analogous to BF3. The melt conducts electricity poorly, unlike more-ionic halides such as sodium chloride.
Aluminium chloride monomer belongs to the point group D3h in its monomeric form and D2h in its dimeric form.
The hexahydrate consists of octahedral [Al(H2O)6]3+ centers and chloride counterions. Hydrogen bonds link the cation and anions. The hydrated form of aluminium chloride has an octahedral molecular geometry, with the central aluminum ion surrounded by six water ligand molecules. Being coordinatively saturated, the hydrate is of little value as a catalyst in Friedel-Crafts alkylation and related reactions.
Anhydrous aluminium chloride is a powerful Lewis acid, capable of forming Lewis acid-base adducts with even weak Lewis bases such as benzophenone and mesitylene. It forms tetrachloroaluminate (AlCl4−) in the presence of chloride ions.
Reactions with waterEdit
Anhydrous aluminium chloride is hygroscopic, having a very pronounced affinity for water. It fumes in moist air and hisses when mixed with liquid water as the Cl− ligands are displaced with H2O molecules to form the hexahydrate [Al(H2O)6]Cl3 . The anhydrous phase cannot be regained on heating the hexahydrate. Instead HCl is lost leaving aluminium hydroxide or alumina (aluminium oxide):
- Al(H2O)6Cl3 → Al(OH)3 + 3 HCl + 3 H2O
- [Al(H2O)6]3+ ⇌ [Al(OH)(H2O)5]2+ + H+
- AlCl3 + 3 NaOH → [Al(OH)3] + 3 NaCl
- 2 Al + 3 Cl2 → 2 AlCl3
- 2 Al + 6 HCl → 2 AlCl3 + 3 H2
- 2 Al + 3 CuCl2 → 2 AlCl3 + 3 Cu
In the US in 1993, approximately 21,000 tons were produced, not counting the amounts consumed in the production of aluminium.
Hydrated aluminium trichloride is prepared by dissolving aluminium oxides in hydrochloric acid. Metallic aluminum also readily dissolves in hydrochloric acid ─ releasing hydrogen gas and generating considerable heat. Heating this solid does not produce anhydrous aluminium trichloride, the hexahydrate decomposes to aluminium hydroxide when heated:
- Al(H2O)6Cl3 → Al(OH)3 + 3 HCl + 3 H2O
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- NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0024". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
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- In contrast, AlBr3 has a more molecular structure, with the Al3+ centers occupying adjacent tetrahedral holes of the close-packed framework of Br− ions. Wells, A. F. (1984) Structural Inorganic Chemistry, Oxford Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. ISBN 0198553706.
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- Aluminum Chloride. solvaychemicals.us
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