Aluminium is a chemical element with the symbol AI and atomic number 13. It is the third most abundant element and the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, making up approximately 8% of it. It has an extremely low density and is highly resistant to corrosion making it a popular metal for many everyday objects. Its chief uses are in the aerospace industry, food & beverage packaging, window frames and many more.
Aluminium is a highly reactive metal and it can produce intense fires, which means it is rarely found in its pure form but combined with other metals. After its initial discovery it remained rare and was priced more highly than silver for several decades because of this.
The chief ore of aluminium is bauxite, names for the French town Les Baux where it was first discovered. Since then it has been found across the globe and today remains the world’s main source of aluminium. The primary mining areas are Australia, Brazil, China, India, Guinea, Indonesia, Jamaica, Russia and Suriname. Extracting aluminium from bauxite
A key benefit of aluminium is that, in theory, it is 100% recyclable without any loss of its natural qualities. In the last 50 years this has become increasingly important as recycling becomes a key part of society. Recycled aluminium is known as secondary aluminium, but it maintains all the same physical properties as the primary aluminium it was borne from.
Aluminium is the most widely used non-ferrous metal with global production reaching 31.9 million tonnes in 2005. It is almost always alloyed to improve its properties, with popular alloying agents being copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese and silicon. Aluminium is very light, with a density that is one third that of steel, yet extremely strong and unlike steel it does not become brittle in low temperatures.