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Topic: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?  (Read 19936 times)

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Offline TTG TriCkSh0tZz

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Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« on: June 11, 2014, 01:23:10 AM »
Hi,
I have a piece which i believe is Aluminium with Copper plating. What i am trying to do is remove the Copper plating without harming the underlying Aluminium. From what i have read, Nitric acid will dissolve copper but will it harm the Aluminium?
Thanks

Offline Dan

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2014, 02:58:38 AM »
Hint: Reactivity series
My research: Google Scholar and Researchgate

Offline TTG TriCkSh0tZz

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2014, 09:27:03 AM »
Sorry but ive looked up reaction series and i still dont quite understand. Im very new to all this stuff
Thanks

Offline Dan

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2014, 11:59:23 AM »
What don't you understand? Please be more specific. We don't dump full answers on Chemical Forums (see Forum Rules).

Did you see this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactivity_series

My research: Google Scholar and Researchgate

Offline TTG TriCkSh0tZz

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2014, 05:07:24 PM »
Thank you, your link really helped. Problem sorted :)

Offline Zyklonb

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2014, 12:01:37 AM »
Thank you, your link really helped. Problem sorted :)
Not so.
Quote
. What don't you understand? Please be more specific. We don't dump full answers on Chemical Forums (see Forum Rules).
While its good not to give away answers without letting the person who asked do any work, your forum rules probably don't say anything about misinformation do they?
Linking the activity series was very misleading. It strongly suggests that nitric acid reacts with aluminum, which is rarely the case.
Only very dilute nitric acid reacts with Al, all other conc. pasivates completely.
So, unless your acid is contaminated with sulfate or chloride anions, the Al will not dissolve.

Offline Dan

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2014, 03:48:28 AM »
Only very dilute nitric acid reacts with Al, all other conc. pasivates completely.

Thank you for posting this detail, I was not aware of that.

Quote
While its good not to give away answers without letting the person who asked do any work, your forum rules probably don't say anything about misinformation do they?

No they don't, because everybody makes mistakes. They do ask you not to be rude though. If you're unsure, you can read the rules here.
My research: Google Scholar and Researchgate

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2014, 06:29:27 AM »
Furthermore, I'm going to ask you to provide a source for your factoid, that more concentrated nitric passivates aluminum at all, much less your decidedly non-quantitative term "completely."  Iron may form a passive coating with concentrated nitric, and various steel alloys can be passivated by a variety of means as ferrous centers are removed, leaving carbon, chromium and nickel behind.  But the aluminum oxide coating is very acid liable, unless formed by chromate.  Although the aluminum oxide coating is resistant to weathering, the amphoteric nature of the compound allows it to be attacked by acids or bases.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passivation_%28chemistry%29#Aluminium

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_oxide#Properties

Which is another reason why we don't dump answers on this forum.  Questions have to be complete, so we don't give bad answers.  That's something everyone has to learn.  Yahoo answers if full of random "Why?" questions, then the poster "votes up" an off-topic, angry rant they got as a responce.  We don't do that here.

Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline Zyklonb

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2014, 09:55:53 AM »
Quote
I'm going to ask you to provide a source for your factoid.
Per this ref:http://khimiya.org/pdfs/KHIMIYA_19_3_PETRUSEVSKI.pdf.
To quote:
Quote
Metallic aluminium was found not to react with either concentrated or
diluted nitric acid.
Quote
[...]much less your decidedly non-quantitative term "completely." 
I said that, because aluminum is one of the only metals that passivates completely. Is that hard to understand? It forms an oxide layer, which the acid does not penetrate, even after long periods of time (unless it's scraped off, I which case a new layer is formed.)
Quote
Iron may form a passive coating with concentrated nitric, and various steel alloys can be passivated by a variety of means as ferrous centers are removed, leaving carbon, chromium and nickel behind.
Do you have a ref. for that? I've dissolved Fe in nitric acid several times and it has never passivated.
Quote
But the aluminum oxide coating is very acid liable, unless formed by chromate.
Not necessarily, hydrochloric acid is the only acid that can penetrate it while dilute. All other acids either must be conc. or contain chloride ion impurities (which have excellent catalytic properties in the destruction of Al2O3.)
To quote:
Quote
Thus, according to Glinka [4]
and Brady [5], aluminum reacts with diluted acids displacing hydrogen, while Greenwood
& Earnshaw [6] say that the protective oxide cover prevents any reaction with
diluted acids. On the other hand, the experiments show [7] that the only reaction that
occurs in real time with diluted acids at room temperature is the reaction with HCl(aq),
giving rise to hydrogen gas and aqueous solution of aluminum chloride. Therefore, the
simple chemical reaction based on the equation
2Al(s) + 6H+(aq) = 3H2(g) + 2Al3+(aq)
seems not to be operative for strong acids other than HCl! That being so (and the
results of experiments say very clearly it is so, indeed), one is faced with a widely
spread preconception about the negligible role of the spectator ions in reactions of
hydrogen displacement, at least for reactions including aluminum. This problem will
be addressed in more detail elsewhere.1
 

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2014, 05:46:55 PM »
Quote
I'm going to ask you to provide a source for your factoid.
Per this ref:http://khimiya.org/pdfs/KHIMIYA_19_3_PETRUSEVSKI.pdf.

Kind of an obscure source, but I'm glad you posted it.  Its good we have it here, for people who are more interested.

Quote
Quote
Iron may form a passive coating with concentrated nitric, and various steel alloys can be passivated by a variety of means as ferrous centers are removed, leaving carbon, chromium and nickel behind.
Do you have a ref. for that? I've dissolved Fe in nitric acid several times and it has never passivated.

I think Pauling's Chemistry probably has a reference to doing this.  Its something of an obscure reaction, the iron passivated coating is very easily scratched.

Hey, I'm not judging.  I just like to shoot straight.  I'm a man of science.

Offline Zyklonb

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2014, 11:15:36 PM »
Quote
Iron may form a passive coating with concentrated nitric, and various steel alloys can be passivated by a variety of means as ferrous centers are removed, leaving carbon, chromium and nickel behind.
Ok, it looks like you were right, from the book "Absorption of Nitrous Gases".
To quote:

Quote
When iron is immersed in nitric acid of sp. gr.
not less than 1-25 (40 per cent. HN03), the iron becomes
" passive" and will not precipitate copper from a solution
of copper sulphate. By tapping or scratching the surface,
however, the metal may be again rendered active and function
in the normal way. The sp. gr. of nitric acid between 1-25TM
1-26 is usually known as the " passive break," owing to it
being the lowest concentration which will induce passivity in
iron. A very complete bibliography on passivity is given by
1
Heathcote. Recent work on the passivity of iron by Young
2
and Hogg seems to show that the passivity induced by nitric
acid is due to an equilibrium between iron and nitrogen tetrox- ide, but owing to the reversibility of the reaction N2O3 = |-[N2O4] + NO, it is impossible to state whether the passifying agent is nitrogen tetroxide, nitrous acid, or a mixture of both. The rate of reaction between nitric acid and iron falls off rapidly as the density rises above 1-26. A much greater degree of passivity seems to be obtained by exposing iron to nitrogen tetroxide than by treatment with nitric acid, although no gas film could be discovered on the metal.
Iron-silicon alloys are the most resistant to nitric acid in all conc. 
Here's a link to the book, hosted on Sciencemadness: http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/absorption_of_nitrous_gases.pdf. One of the best books I've read in a while. It has an incredible amount of information on various oxides of nitrogen and the oxiacids thereof. 

Offline Borek

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2014, 02:39:41 AM »
I recall learning many years ago that nitric acid was routinely transported using steel tank cars (railway type). That was possible thanks to passivation.
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Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2014, 05:31:57 AM »
The paper must deal with very pure aluminium (funny stuff, I had some really pure for semiconductor processes, one could make a dent with his nails). Alloys behave very differently, with little copper ruining the corrosion resistance of aluminium, allegedly because it makes the oxide layer porous. And what metallurgy calls "pure" aluminium like AA1050, AA1099 is already an alloy.

Having seen an aluminium-zinc (AA7049A) destroyed in the soil in one day, I wouldn't bet on this one in an acid, even nitric.

Aluminium corrosion being essentially a matter of oxide layer, previsions are difficult.

Offline Borek

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2014, 08:23:11 AM »
Alloys behave very differently, with little copper ruining the corrosion resistance of aluminium, allegedly because it makes the oxide layer porous.

Strange. As far as I can tell duralumin is still quite corrosion resistant, despite containing around 4% of copper (and some other elements).
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Offline Zyklonb

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Re: Is Nitric acid harmful to Aluminium?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2014, 10:35:44 AM »
The paper must deal with very pure aluminum.
Probably yes, scientific papers generally use the purist reagents possible to attempt to give the most accurate results.
I am currently testing how "aluminum foil" grade Al holds up in nitric acid.
I added 1 mL fuming nitric acid (~96%) to .2 grams Al. After 15 minutes nothing has happened.
I also added 1.5 mL 68% nitric acid to .2 grams Al. Nothing has happened to it either.
IIRC, Al foil is ~98.5% pure, impurities being Fe and Si - which are added intentionally to make it slightly stronger.
[EDIT] I added a small amount of chloride ion (in the form of CaCl2 anhydrous) to the second test tube. Surprisingly still no reaction could be observed within 10 minutes.
I had to leave the lab and won't be able to check on anything for a few hours.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 11:14:32 AM by Zyklonb »

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