Aluminium is a metal belonging to the boron group and is known for its strength and for being lightweight. Light, durable, and functional: these are the qualities that make aluminium one of the key engineering materials of our time.
Aluminium can be found in our homes, in transport, computers, and in modern interior design – it plays an essential part in our everyday lives. Why is this lightweight, silvery-white metal so important? How does it make our lives easier? Browse through these interesting facts about aluminium to find out…
Some of the first documented uses of aluminium occurred thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece. Back then, people dyed their clothes with alum, which of course, contained aluminium.
The analysis of a curious metal ornament found in the tomb of Chou-Chu, a military leader in 3rdcentury China, turned out to be 85% aluminium. How it was produced remains a mystery. By the end of the 1700s, aluminium oxide was known to contain a metal, but it couldn’t be extracted.
Sir Humphry Davy originally named the element aluminium in 1808. However, in 1812, he changed it to aluminum. The British retained the name aluminium to be the uniform use.
The first person to produce it was Hans Christian Oersted in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1825, and he did it by heating aluminium chloride with potassium. Even so, his sample was impure.
The German chemist Friedrich Wöhler perfected the method in 1827 and obtained pure aluminium for the first time by using sodium instead of potassium.
On the 23rd February, 1886, Charles Martin Hall succeeded in producing aluminium metal by passing an electric current through a solution of aluminium oxide in molten cryolite. On the 9thJuly, 1886, Hall filed for his first patent. This process was also discovered at nearly the same time by the Frenchman Paul Héroult, and it’s known as the Hall-Héroult process.
For decades, aluminium was more highly prized than gold. Napoleon III, the first president of the French Second Republic beginning in 1848, proudly served his most honoured guests with aluminium plates and cutlery.
In the 1960s, aluminium was more widely used for electrical wiring because of high copper prices. Although it is 37% less conductive than copper, aluminium is lighter and more malleable. Therefore it is used for long-distance lines.
Aluminium is the most widespread metal on Earth, making up more than 8% of the Earth’s core mass. It’s also the third most common chemical element on our planet after oxygen and silicon.
Aluminium content in the Solar System is 3.15 ppm (parts per million). It is more common on Earth, making up 1.59% of the Earth’s mass.
Because it easily binds with other elements, pure aluminium does not occur in nature.
Pure aluminium is far too weak to support anything, which is why it is reinforced with other metals. A typical ratio is 99% aluminium with 1% of another metal.
The most common form of aluminium found in nature is aluminium sulphates.
Aluminium got its name from aluminium sulphates which in Latin were called alumen.
Aluminium sulphates are used to clean water, for cooking, in medicine, in cosmetology, in the chemical industry, and other sectors.
It weighs just one-third of steel (2.7 g/cm3). It’s easy to handle in a factory or on a building site, and it reduces energy consumption during transportation, making aluminium, not just a lightweight and versatile choice of material, but also an economically practical one.
Aluminium foil reflects both heat and light and is completely impermeable, which means no taste, aroma or light gets in or out.
Because it reflects both heat and light, it traps warmth and cold under its cover, making it ideal for food preservation, emergency blankets, light fittings, mirrors, chocolate wrappers, window frames, and much more. Also, the high energy efficiency in reflectors reduces energy consumption, adding to aluminium’s superiority over most metals.
Aluminium reflects 92% of light, making it highly reflective. Thus, it is the ideal material for a telescope lining.
It can make any establishment more energy-efficient because of its capacity to reflect infrared light from the Sun.
Aluminium reacts with the oxygen in the air, forming a protective oxide coating that makes it corrosion resistant.
It’s very ductile, and it may be shaped into everything from bicycle frames and boat hulls to computer cases and kitchen utensils. It’s easy to process in both cold and hot conditions, and can also be used to create different alloys, tailor-made for different challenges and needs. Aluminium offers complete design freedom and is suitable for a wide range of uses.
Few materials are as easily recycled as aluminium. It requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce the initial primary metal to recycle it. In fact, 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use.
The Wright brothers used aluminium to build key parts of their biplane’s engine because no manufacturer could provide an engine light enough with the needed horsepower.
A single Boeing-747 contains 147,000 pounds (more than 66,000 kilograms) of aluminium,
Spacecraft built for deep space exploration is mostly made up of aluminium alloys.
An aluminium powder and potassium perchlorate mix is the standard flash powder used in the pyrotechnic industry.
Do you have any interesting facts about aluminium that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!