Aluminium

(Al) Atomic Number 13

Aluminium is a soft, nonmagnetic, ductile metal which is utilised for its low density, and its resistance to corrosion. Being chemically reactive by nature it is rarely found in its metallic form, it is far more commonly found in mineral form in almost 300 different combinations.

Aluminium is the 3rd most abundant element (after Oxygen and Silicon) and the most abundant metal, making up around 8% by weight of the earth crust. Despite the commonness with which it occurs there is no known lifeform which uses Aluminium salts metabolically, though it is well tolerated by plants and animals.

PROPERTIES OF ALUMINIUM

Usually Aluminium is alloyed for use even if the Aluminium content in the alloy is still in excess of 99%, it is used as pure metal only when corrosion resistance and/or workability is more important than strength or hardness.

As well as its high strength to weight ratio, corrosion resistance properties it is also a good thermal and electrical conductor, reflector of light and heat, it is non-toxic and is highly recyclable.

There is no difference in quality between virgin and recycled Aluminium but it only takes approx. 5% of the energy to re-melt and recycle compared to the energy required to produce virgin material. Therefore the recyclability of Aluminium is unparalleled and around 60% of aluminium alloy is recycled at the end of its lifecycle.

USES OF ALUMINIUM

Its versatility means that Aluminium is the most widely used nonferrous metal. In theory due to its high level of reactivity with Oxygen, it should not be nearly so useful, but unlike when iron oxidises (rusts) instead of flaking away like iron oxide (rust) the result of the reaction, Aluminium oxide sticks to the original metal creating a barrier and shielding it from further decay.

It is used in a wide range of different areas from common items that we are surrounded by on a daily basis, transportation (cars, aircraft, marine vessels, bicycles), packaging (foil, cans), construction (windows, doors), household items (cooking utensils, white goods, electronic shells), to the more specialist items such as transmissions lines, electronic wiring, heat sinks etc.