organometallic compounds in which the aluminum is directly bonded with the carbon atom. Two types of organoaluminum compounds are known: complete R3A1 and incomplete R2A1X or RA1X 2(where R stands for CH3, C2H5, C6H5, and others and X stands for halogen, OR, or H). Aluminum trialkyls are colorless fluids which are extremely sensitive to oxygen and moisture; trimethylaluminum and triethylaluminum ignite spontaneously in the air, and they decompose explosively in water. Organoaluminum compounds are handled in an inert atmosphere (nitrogen, argon). All organoaluminum compounds produce stable complexes with an ether or with amines—for example, (CH3)3AlxO(CH3)2 and (CH3)3AlxN(CH3)3. With NaR and LiR, complexes of the Me[AIR4] type are formed. All these complexes are less reactive, but they also ignite in the air.
Organoaluminum compounds are also obtained by the action of alkyl halides on an alloy of magnesium with aluminum—for example, 6C2H5Br + 2A1 + 3Mg = 2(C2H5)3A1 + 3MgBr2.
Organoaluminum compounds are used in industry as catalysts of low-pressure olefin polymerization (for example, in producing low-pressure polyethylene) and for obtaining ultrapure aluminum.