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Aluminium (Aluminum)

27 May 2015
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Aluminium, with a symbol Al in the periodic table of elements, is a silvery-white metal. It can be soft and ductile or brittle and tough. It is very light due to its low density, and resistant to weather conditions, corrosion and the effects of certain acids. In the composition of the earth's crust, it is in third place, right after oxygen and silicon. Considering only the share of metals, aluminium is the most abundant element in the earth's crust with 8% by weight, which is nearly double than the weight of the second element – iron with weight of  4.5%.
Similar to the stainless steel, when aluminium is exposed to the influence of oxygen the protective oxide layer is formed on the surface of the material, which prevents direct contact of aluminium with the moisture and acid. Since aluminium is very chemically reactive, it is extremely difficult to find in a pure form. So far there is about 270 different minerals found containing aluminium. The main ore from which aluminum is obtained is bauxite - a combination of minerals gibbsite, boehmite and diaspore which are actually aluminium hydroxides.

After iron aluminium is the most widely used metal. Similar as iron, aluminium alloys formed by adding other elements have a much better technical characteristics than pure aluminium, and are also more suitable for manufacturing and commercial purposes.

Despite the fact that there is much more aluminium than iron, aluminium products are generally more expensive. The difference is in the complexity of the purification process - aluminium is obtained only by electrolysis, which uses enormous amounts of electricity and this is one reason why aluminium is more expensive.

Due primarily to its specific density the primary use of aluminium is in industries where it is necessary to minimize the weight and keep the essential technical characteristics of steel. Therefore, its use is most common in airline, space and automotive industries, as well as in  information technology, shipbuilding, beverage industry and packaging.

It is interesting that despite its  prevalence aluminium is discovered quite late, at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1855, it was even exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris as something special – it attracted admiration with its silvery glow but also with the price which was higher than the price of gold!

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