Questions Engineering

What makes aluminum different from other metals?


Usman Banda

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There are almost 95 different types of metals available in the world, each with their unique set of properties and usefulness. Some of them are highly precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, etc. which are used for ornamental purposes, while others like iron, aluminum, etc. are used for commercial purposes. In this article, we will be highlighting Aluminum and its unique properties.

A brief history of Aluminum

  • German chemist Andreas Marggraf first identified aluminum (it was not named as aluminum till then) from alum.

  • Sir Humphry Davy first named the metal as “Aluminum”.Charles Martin Hall, Julia Bernard Hall, and Paul-Louis-Toussaint Heroult discovered the modern method of extracting pure aluminum from aluminum oxide via electrolysis.

    Some of the unique properties of Aluminum are:
  • Aluminum is much stronger as compared to its weight, making it perfect for building frames for vehicles and other power tools. Even for building body of airplanes, aluminum is an essential component.

  • Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity, ranking 3rd after silver and copper.

  • Aluminum is nonmagnetic when compared with metals like iron and steel.

  • While iron rust is in brown, aluminum rust is white.

  • Aluminum is one of the best metal for recycling, as it retains an almost maximum portion of its original strength.

    Uses of Aluminum

  • Aluminum is an essential component of Duralumin, which is an alloy used in manufacturing aircraft bodies due to its extremely high strength to weight ratio.

  • Aluminum is used in the preparation of cooking utensils because of its high heat conductivity. For the same reason, aluminum foil is used for keeping food hot for a longer duration. Also, aluminum protects the food from several harmful elements.

  • Aluminum is used in the manufacturing of the vehicular engines to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, which in turn reduces the fuel consumption.

  • Aluminum is used for transmitting electricity over long distances because it is cheaper than copper and is more easily available. 

  • As aluminum is shiny and easily malleable when compared with other metals like iron, it is used in the manufacturing of decorative items like window panes, bed frames, statues, etc.

  • Aluminum is used as cladding with stones and bricks for buildings because it can be easily bonded, tapered, cut and welded.

  •  Because of its high reflective nature, aluminum is used in the preparation of heat reflectors.

  • Aluminum in its purest form is used in CDs and several other electronic components.

Aluminum is lightweight, durable, excellent conductors of heat and electricity, can be molded easily, easily available and is cheap when compared with most other metals. All these properties make aluminum one of the most commercially important metal for all sorts of manufacturing processes.

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