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The formula for aluminum carbide is Al4C3. It consists of alternating layers of atoms with different binding environments. Each aluminum atom is coordinated to 4 carbon atoms giving a tetrahedral structure.

It is soluble in water and reacts with it to produce methane as well as aluminum oxide. It is a common abrasive and finds use in metal cutting tools.

In metallurgy it is used to reduce metal oxides and in the manufacture of aluminum nitride. It is also useful as a drying agent.

Other uses include generating methane and reducing metal oxides by electrolysis at high temperature. It also forms alumina nitride and aluminum sulfide by heating the elements to over 1000 degC.

Another important application of aluminum carbide is in pyrometallurgy. The chemical reactions of aluminum and other elements at high temperatures result in a variety of compounds that possess varying properties.

Some of these compounds are halides; the most familiar is aluminum fluoride, prepared by reacting the metal with hydrogen fluoride at 1291 degC. Other halides are aluminum chloride, aluminum bromide and aluminum iodide. They are dimeric in vapor and liquid states and have fairly low melting and boiling points as well as other characteristic properties of molecular compounds.

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