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Who discovered it
Ancient Greeks and Romans used aluminium salts as
dyeing mordants and as astringents for dressing
wounds; alum is still used as a styptic. In 1761
Guyton de Morveau suggested calling the base alum
alumine. In 1808, Humphry Davy identified the
existence of a metal base of alum, which he at first
named alumium and later aluminium (see Spelling
section, below). Humphry Davy

Friedrich Whler is generally credited with isolating

aluminium (Latin alumen, alum) in 1827 by mixing
anhydrous aluminium chloride with potassium. The
metal, however, had indeed been produced for the
first time two years earlier but in an impure form
by the Danish physicist and chemist Hans
Christian rsted.

Hans Christian rsted

The extraction of
The extraction is done by electrolysis. Aluminium oxide has a very high
melting point (over 2000C) and it would be expensive to melt it.
So instead it is dissolved in molten cryolite - an aluminium
compound with a lower melting point than aluminium oxide. The
use of cryolite reduces some of the energy costs involved in
extracting aluminium.
The diagram shows an aluminium oxide electrolysis tank. Both the
cathode and the anode are made of graphite, a form of carbon.
Aluminium forms at the negative electrode and sinks to the bottom
of the tank, where it is tapped off. The equation for this reaction is
Al3+ + 3e- Al
Oxygen forms at the positive electrodes. The equation for this
reaction is
2O2- - 4e- O2
The oxygen reacts with the carbon of the positive electrodes,
forming carbon dioxide, and they gradually burn away.
Consequently the positive electrodes have to be replaced
frequently, which adds to the cost of the process.

Diagram of electrolysis
Info About Aluminium
Is strong, malleable and has a low
Is resistant to corrosion.
A good conductor of heat and electricity.
Can be polished to give a highly
reflective surface.

A aluminium bar
Uses of Aluminium
Low density and strength make it ideal for
construction of aircraft, lightweight vehicles, and
An alloy of aluminium called duralumin is often
instead of pure aluminium because of its improved
Easy shaping and corrosion resistance make it a
good material
for drink cans and roofing materials.
Corrosion resistance and low density leads to its
for greenhouses and window frames. Aluminium Stuff
Good conduction of heat leads to its use
for boilers, cookers and cookware.
Good conduction of electricity leads to its use
for overhead power cables hung from pylons
(low density gives it an advantage over copper).
High reflectivity makes it ideal for
mirrors, reflectors and heat resistant clothing for fire
Uses for Aluminium
Aluminium ammonium sulphate ([Al(NH4)](SO4)2), ammonium alum is used as a mordant, in water
purification and sewage treatment, in paper production, as a food additive, and in leather tanning.
Aluminium acetate is a salt used in solution as an astringent.
Aluminium borate (Al2O3 B2O3) is used in the production of glass and ceramic.
Aluminium borohydride (Al(BH4)3) is used as an additive to jet fuel.
Aluminium chloride (AlCl3) is used: in paint manufacturing, in antiperspirants, in petroleum refining
and in the production of synthetic rubber.
Aluminium chlorohydride is used as an antiperspirant and in the treatment of hyperhidrosis.
Aluminium fluorosilicate (Al2(SiF6)3) is used in the production of synthetic gemstones, glass and
Aluminium hydroxide (Al(OH)3) is used: as an antacid, as a mordant, in water purification, in the
manufacture of glass and ceramic and in the waterproofing of fabrics.
Aluminium oxide (Al2O3), alumina, is found naturally as corundum (rubies and sapphires), emery, and
is used in glass making. Synthetic ruby and sapphire are used in lasers for the production of coherent
Aluminium phosphate (AlPO4) is used in the manufacture: of glass and ceramic, pulp and paper
products, cosmetics, paints and varnishes and in making dental cement.
Aluminium sulphate (Al2(SO4)3) is used: in the manufacture of paper, as a mordant, in a fire
extinguisher, in water purification and sewage treatment, as a food additive, in fireproofing, and in
leather tanning.
In many vaccines, certain aluminium salts serve as an immune adjuvant (immune response booster) to
allow the protein in the vaccine to achieve sufficient potency as an immune stimulant.
Importance of Recycling
Due to the large energy use in the extraction
process, it is vital that we recycle.
Recycled aluminium only requires 5% of the
energy needed to extract fresh aluminium.
Remember to recycle, because energy can be
better spent.

A customised can

Lots of aluminium
Sources of info
Aluminium Wizard