- Aluminium or aluminum
(American English) is a silvery white member of the boron group of
chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is
13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances.
- Aluminium is the third
most abundant element (after oxygen and silicon), and the most
abundant metal, in the Earth's crust. It makes up about 8% by weight
of the Earth's solid surface.
- Aluminium metal is too
reactive chemically to occur natively. Instead, it is found combined
in over 270 different minerals. The chief ore of aluminium is
- Today, aluminum and
aluminum alloys are used in a wide variety of products: cans, foils
and kitchen utensils, as well as parts of airplanes, rockets and
other items that require a strong, light material. Aluminum oxide is
also used to make synthetic rubies and sapphires for lasers.
- Ancient Greeks and
Romans used alum as an astringent, for medicinal purposes, and as a
mordant in dyeing. Although it doesn't conduct electricity as well
as copper, it is used in electrical transmission lines because of
its light weight. It can be deposited on the surface of glass to
make mirrors, where a thin layer of aluminum oxide quickly forms
that acts as a protective coating.
- Aluminum also can be
produced from clay, although this is not the most economically
feasible method at present. In addition to cryolite and bauxite,
aluminum is found in feldspars, granite, and many other common
minerals. The oxide, alumina, occurs naturally as ruby, sapphire,
emery, and corundum.
- At first, scientists
believed that aluminum was extremely rare and difficult to extract,
and the metal was at one point highly prized. Several sculptures
from the 1800s illustrate this commonly held belief. In 1886,
however, an American student named C.M. Hall and a Frenchman named
Paul Herout developed a process for smelting ores to extract their
- Super purity aluminum
(from 99.980 to 99.999% pure aluminum) is used in electronic
equipment and CDís. Many car, airplane, truck, train, boat and
bicycle parts are made from Al. Some countries have coins that are
made from aluminum or a combination (alloy) of copper and aluminum.
- Aluminum is great at
absorbing heat energy. Therefore, it is used in electronics (eg.
computers) and transistors as a heat sink to prevent overheating.
Believe it or not, street lights and sailing ship masts are both
made from aluminum.
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