Aluminium fluoride is an important additive for the production of aluminium by electrolysis. Together with cryolite, it lowers the melting point to below 1000 °C and increases the conductivity of the solution. It is into this molten salt that aluminium oxide is dissolved and then electrolyzed to give bulk Al metal.
Aluminum fluoride complexes are used to study the mechanistic aspects of phosphoryl transfer reactions in biology, which are of fundamental importance to cells, as phosphoric acid anhydrides such as ATP and GTP control most of the reactions involved in metabolism, growth and differentiation. The observation that aluminum fluoride can bind to and activate heterotrimeric G proteins has proven to be useful for the study of G protein activation in vivo, for the elucidation of three-dimensional structures of several GTPases, and for understanding the biochemical mechanism of GTP hydrolysis, including the role of GTPase-activating proteins.
Together with zirconium fluoride, aluminium fluoride is an ingredient for the production of fluoroaluminate glasses.
It is also used to inhibit fermentation.
Like magnesium fluoride it used as a low-index optical thin film, particularly when far UV transparency is required. Its deposition by physical vapor deposition, particularly by evaporation, is favorable.