aluminum perchlorate, also known as alum perchlorate or potassium perchlorate, is an important component of the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters. It is a strong oxidizing agent that consists of a mixture of aluminum powder and a iron oxide catalyst in a rubberized binder.
Its chemical formula is AlCl3 and it has a molecular weight of around 5000. The molecule is covalently bonded with a low melting and boiling point.
The molecule adopts a three-part structure, depending on the temperature and state (solid, liquid, gas). In a solid solution, it is composed of a sheet-like layered cubic close packed layers with centres that exhibit octahedral coordination geometry.
This crystalline compound is widely used as an effective Lewis acid and is a catalyst for a variety of Friedel-Crafts type reactions, acylations and alkylations. It is a powerful catalyst for the polymerization of hydrocarbons, and it also finds use as a reagent in the isomerisation of organic compounds.
As a result, aluminum chloride is used in many industrial processes and it is often in the form of an inorganic salt called aluminium chlorohydrate, which is present in deodorants and antiperspirants. Aluminium chlorohydrate is also a coagulant in water purification.
Aluminum chloride is a corrosive, hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture from the air) and acidic substance. It can cause severe respiratory tract, eye and skin burns when inhaled or swallowed. This material is also flammable, explosive and toxic to aquatic life. It may cause lung damage, and can be dangerous to children and the elderly.