Aluminium oxide is an amphoteric oxide. Its most significant use is in the production of aluminium metal, although it is also used as an abrasive owing to its hardness and as a refractory material owing to its high melting point. Being fairly chemically inert and white, alumina is a favored filler for plastics. Alumina is a common ingredient in sunscreen and is sometimes present in cosmetics such as blush, lipstick, and nail polish. Alumina catalyses a variety of reactions that are useful industrially. In its largest scale application, alumina is the catalyst in the Claus process for converting hydrogen sulfide waste gases into elemental sulfur in refineries. It is also useful for dehydration of alcohols to alkenes. It is widely used to remove water from gas streams. Aluminium oxide is used for its hardness and strength. It is widely used as a coarse or fine abrasive, including as a much less expensive substitute for industrial diamond. Aluminium oxide flakes are base material for effect pigments. These pigments are widely used for decorative applications. It is also used in preparation of coating suspensions in compact fluorescent lamps. In chemistry laboratories, alumina is a medium for chromatography, available in basic, acidic and neutral formulations. Health and medical applications include it as a material in hip replacements. As well, it is used as a dosimeter for radiation protection and therapy applications for its optically stimulated luminescence properties.
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