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ALUMINIUM

Aluminium is a soft, durable, lightweight, malleable metal with


appearance ranging from silvery to dull grey, depending on the surface
roughness. Aluminium is nonmagnetic and nonsparking. It is also insoluble
in alcohol, though it can be soluble in water in certain forms. The yield
strength of pure aluminium is 711 !a, while aluminium alloys have yield
strengths ranging from "## !a to $## !a.
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Aluminium has about one'
third the density and stiffness of steel. It is ductile, and easily machined,
cast, drawn and e(truded.
)orrosion resistance can be e(cellent due to a thin surface layer of
aluminium o(ide that forms when the metal is e(posed to air, effectively
preventing further o(idation. The strongest aluminium alloys are less
corrosion resistant due to galvanic reactions with alloyed copper.
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This
corrosion resistance is also often greatly reduced when many a*ueous salts
are present, particularly in the presence of dissimilar metals.
Aluminium has nine isotopes, whose mass numbers range from "+ to
+#. ,nly
"7
Al -stable isotope. and
"$
Al -radioactive isotope, t
1/"
0 7."11#
2
y.
occur naturally3 however,
"7
Al has a natural abundance above 44.45.
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Al is
produced from argon in the atmosphere by spallation caused by cosmic'ray
protons.
In the 6arth7s crust, aluminium is the most abundant -8.+5 by weight.
metallic element and the third most abundant of all elements -after o(ygen
and silicon..
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9ecause of its strong affinity to o(ygen, however, it is almost
never found in the elemental state3 instead it is found in o(ides or silicates.
:eldspars, the most common group of minerals in the 6arth7s crust, are
aluminosilicates. ;ative aluminium metal can be found as a minor phase in
low o(ygen fugacity environments, such as the interiors of certain
volcanoes.
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It also occurs in the minerals beryl, cryolite, garnet, spinel and
tur*uoise.
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Impurities in Al
"
,
+
, such as chromium or cobalt yield the
gemstones ruby and sapphire, respectively. !ure Al
"
,
+
, known as corundum,
is one of the hardest materials known.
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Although aluminium is an e(tremely common and widespread
element, the common aluminium minerals are not economic sources of the
metal. Almost all metallic aluminium is produced from the ore bau(ite
-Al,
x
-,<.
+'"x
.. 9au(ite occurs as a weathering product of low iron and silica
bedrock in tropical climatic conditions.
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>arge deposits of bau(ite occur in
Australia, 9ra?il, @uinea and Aamaica but the primary mining areas for the
ore are in @hana, Indonesia, Aamaica, Bussia and Curinam.
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Cmelting of
the ore mainly occurs in Australia, 9ra?il, )anada, ;orway, Bussia and the
Dnited Ctates. 9ecause smelting is an energy'intensive process, regions with
e(cess natural gas supplies -such as the Dnited Arab 6mirates. are becoming
aluminium refiners.
Although aluminium is the most abundant metallic element in the
6arth7s crust, it is never found in free, metallic form, and it was once
considered a precious metal more valuable than gold. ;apoleon III, 6mperor
of :rance, is reputed to have given a ban*uet where the most honoured
guests were given aluminium utensils, while the others had to make do with
gold.
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The Eashington onument was completed, with the 1## ounce
-".8 kg. aluminium capstone being put in place on Fecember $, 188=, in an
elaborate dedication ceremony. It was the largest single piece of aluminium
cast at the time, when aluminium was as e(pensive as silver.
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Aluminium
has been produced in commercial *uantities for Gust over 1## years.
Aluminium is 1##5 recyclable without any loss of its natural *ualities.
Becovery of the metal via recycling has become an important facet of the
In 6urope aluminium e(periences high rates of recycling, ranging
from ="5 of beverage cans, 825 of construction materials and 425 of
transport vehicles.
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Becycled aluminium is known as secondary aluminium, but maintains
the same physical properties as primary aluminium. Cecondary aluminium is
produced in a wide range of formats and is employed in 8#5 of the alloy
inGections. Another important use is for e(trusion.