Metals Industry Logo


About Us


Contact Us

Brief History of Aluminum

Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth's crust. It is never found in metallic form, and is always found combined with other elements. The chief source of aluminum is bauxite ore. Bauxite is a combination of hydrated aluminum oxides, usually containing oxides of silicon and iron. Bauxite is soft and clay like in texture.

Although, the ancient Greeks and Romans used Alum as an astringent and for dyeing, Friedrich Wohler is generally credited with having isolated the metal in 1827. An impure form was prepared by Hans Christian Oersted two years earlier. In 1807, Humphry Davy proposed the name alumium for the metal, undiscovered at that time, and later agreed to change it to aluminium. Shortly thereafter, the name aluminium was adopted to conform to the "ium" ending of most elements, and this spelling is now in use elsewhere in the world.

Aluminum is strong, flexible, lightweight, recyclable, and resistant to corrosion. Transportation represents the largest market for Aluminum in North America. It is the second most widely used material in new cars and trucks in the world. Mainly aluminum is used to improve gas mileage in vehicles. Aluminum can be processed many different ways, cast, rolled, extruded, and forged. One of the first statutes to be cast in aluminum is the statue known as Eros, erected in 1893, at Londonís Piccadilly Circus. When aluminum is rolled under pressure, it becomes thinner and longer. The three most widely used forms, is aluminum plate, aluminum sheet, and aluminum foil.

Aluminum plate is one quarter inch thick or more. Aluminum sheet is .249 to .006 inch thick, and aluminum foil is less than .006 inch thin (the thickness of a human hair). Aluminum plate, sheet, and foil, represent the industries major products. Aluminum sheet is the most widely used form of aluminum. It is used for containers, packaging, transportation, and building construction. Aluminum plate is used for the skins of airliners, spacecraft fuel tanks, and other heavy duty applications. Aluminum foil is used in building insulation, electrical, and packaging. Aluminum foil reflects heat and is widely used in cooking. Do you remember the aluminum foil beanies of the 1950ís? They were used to prevent mind control and deflect radiation and cosmic rays from Outer Space. Aluminum coil is one third the density of and weight of steel and has excellent heat and electric conductivity. Aluminum strip is almost three times lighter than steel because of itís low density. Aluminum strip is second only to steel strip in world usage.

The largest producer of aluminum in the world is Alcoa. In 1999, Alcoa acquired Reynolds Metal Company. In 1963 Reynolds introduced the aluminum beverage can, and in 1968 Reynolds pioneered the can recycling plan that gave the industry a cheap source of aluminum, and was cheered by the environmentalists.

According to the I.A.I. (International Aluminum Institute), their future goals are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aluminum production; increase energy efficiency in aluminum production; maximize used-product collection, recycling and reuse; and promote the light-weighting of vehicles.

Dee Schenck
All Metal Sales Corp.