If we go back to our school days and remember what we learned in our chemistry classes, we will realize that Aluminium is a metal. The color is silver-gray and the atomic number is 13. The symbol is Al. It resembles silver in many ways in its ability to reflect light as well as its shiny appearance.
There are typically 3 requirements for a material to be considered a metal: it needs to have a lustrous look, conduct electricity, and heat. Aluminum has each of these and can therefore be considered a metal.
Aluminum can be mixed with other metals to create alloys. This can give the material other properties that can lead to new applications
Since it is very ductile and is a very good conductor of electricity, it is commonly used to manufacture electrical wires. It is prone to corrosion when left in the open as it forms a protective layer of oxide. Since it is non-magnetic, it is used to manufacture many gadgets.
It is the third most common element in the Universe. The most common element is oxygen with 46% presence and then comes silicon with 28% presence. Aluminum is available at 8.3% on the earth.
History behind Aluminium
In 1825, a physicist from Denmark Hans Christian Ørsted discovered this beautiful and lustrous metal. A chemist from France Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville started industrial production in 1856. Aluminum started gaining popularity and two engineers Paul Héroult from France and Charles Martin Hall from America decided to improve the process of production of aluminum.
In the 21st century, we use aluminum to construct the bodies of planes cars, sea vessels, underground trains, submarines, etc. It is used extensively in the electronics industry to manufacture the body of mobile phones, watches, dishwashers, and many other household gadgets. It is used in the construction industry. The most common examples will be the rolling shutter rails that we install on our windows and other furniture where we want to install rolling glass sheets.
Usage of Aluminium
1. Packaging industry-
Remember the last time you opened a soda can? The outer layer of paint might not have let you realize the material it is made of, however it was high-quality aluminum which does not react with the contents inside.
Almost every restaurant and bakery use aluminum foil to wrap the cookies and cakes while delivering them to you. Even at home, if you do not want to take the stress of washing a lunchbox, what do you normally do? Pack a sandwich in an aluminum foil wrap and put it in your son/daughter’s school bag.
There are many other types of wrapping materials that are created using aluminum. In the 21st century, we can’t think of a day in a factory that manufactures packaging materials without aluminum.
2. Construction industry-
The comfortable homes you live in would have been different if aluminum wouldn’t been invented. The horizontal blinds often use aluminum during their manufacturing process.
Many lightweight doors and windows are made of aluminum. Even the railings for sliding glass sheets use aluminum.
Even high-rise apartments prefer aluminum to steel as reinforcements as the weight is much lesser. Due to its high strength-to-weight ratio, it became the darling of civil engineers, construction contractors, and architects. Its contribution to high energy savings made it a favorite of the eco-friendly lobbyists too.
Instead of aluminum if steel were to be used for the same kind of skyscraper buildings, the weight of the building would have gone up. That would have required the contractor to dig the foundation deeper which would have added to the costs. Since aluminum does not rust, it is a preferred metal for many fixtures, nuts, and bolts in a building.
3. Transport industry-
Life would have been standstill or very different today if aluminum was not used to manufacture the body parts of cycles and skateboards. Even cars, spacecraft, aircrafts, ships, boats, train bogies, submarines, and many other vehicles use aluminum to create the body of the vehicle and other important parts.
The body of the Ford sedan has used aluminum to a large extent. Even luxury car manufacturers like Mercedes depend a lot on aluminum as an environment-friendly option to manufacture car bodies and other parts.
4. Electrical and power equipment-
We all know that aluminum is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is used for wiring power grids and is lighter than copper, it is a preferred metal for high-tension overhead wires.
Since it weighs half that of copper and is much cheaper than rose gold metal, aluminum is a popular choice for wires in power grids. Copper is a better conductor of electricity and the precipitation too is lesser, however, due to its lightweight advantage, it stole the crowning jewel in the electrical industry.
Most of our electrical appliances like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, and food processors etc. use aluminum to manufacture the body of the gadget. Unlike iron it does not get shorted are safer than heavy metal for manufacturing electrical appliances.
5. Paints and varnishes-
Aluminum is used as a component to manufacture paint and varnishes. Many cosmetic industries too use aluminium in a powdered form for the sheen and luster it has.
Reflective surfaces too use aluminum due to their ability to reflect light. Toys and many decorative pieces are manufactured using aluminum or various alloys of aluminum. Even artificial jewelry manufacturing units use aluminum and since it does not cause irritation like many other metals like nickel, lead, etc. it is quite popular there. Many countries even use aluminum or alloys of it to manufacture coins.
Conclusion: is Aluminium a metal or not?
Aluminum can be recycled easily which makes it a favorite element for environmentalists. From using it as pots and pans in our kitchens to aluminum foils to wrap our sandwiches, we have a brush with this white metal every day.
If you are into creating electrical circuits, you must have used aluminum wire for soldering. If you have science major geeks at home, they too will use aluminum in many ways.