What properties does aluminum have that make it the miracle metal?
- Strong and durable
- Corrosion resistant
There are more than a couple hundred aluminum providers and manufacturers in the entire world like One Sky Aluminum. One reason for the overwhelming number of people building their business off of aluminum is the metal’s abundance.
Aluminum is the most abundant metal and the 3rd most abundant element in the earth’s crust as it makes up approximately 8% of it. However, it is never found free in nature. Aluminum is always combined with other elements to form compounds such as aluminum oxide and potassium aluminum sulfate.
At first, extracting aluminum from these compounds was costly and labor-intensive which meant it was a luxury item in the early 1800s. As years went by and technology advanced, scientist found an easier and inexpensive way of obtaining aluminum. All this resulted in the increased availability of affordable and high-quality aluminum – another reason why it’s so widely used to this day.
Besides its abundance and affordability, there’s another thing that makes aluminum worthy of the title “the miracle metal”—its properties. What these properties are and how they make aluminum such an ideal material will be listed and explained below!
The specific weight of aluminum is 2.7g/cm3 and that is about a third of the weight of steel, which makes aluminum a very lightweight metal. In some products, this is just an advantage but for others, this is an important and crucial detail.
Using aluminum in vehicles, for example, reduces dead-weight and lowers energy consumption while simultaneously increasing load capacity. Being lightweight also means that the shipping and handling costs are lowered which ultimately leads to cheaper production costs.
Strong and Durable
Aluminum isn’t just used for day to day products like kitchen utensils or soda cans, it is also trusted for some of the most extreme uses because of its high-strength and durability. Some of the many sectors that make good use of aluminum include the automotive industry, military forces, aviation, and even NASA.
The secret to aluminum’s strength is chemistry. When pure aluminum is mixed with other elements, it makes high-strength alloys that can be further strengthened through different processing techniques. This results in a finished product that is just as strong, if not stronger, than steel.
In relation to its weight, aluminum is almost twice as good of an electrical conductor as copper. It’s innate and excellent electric conductivity makes it a very economical material for power transmission cables, electric bulbs, and other electric fields and applications.
Aside from being a good conductor of electricity, aluminum is also a great conductor of heat. In fact, it conducts heat better than all other common metals and is three times as conductive as steel. This is a property that is important in heat exchange applications which are commonly used in the petroleum, chemical, automotive, and food industries.
Ductility is a physical property that is associated with a material’s ability to be hammered thin or stretched wide without breaking and one very good example of a ductile metal is aluminum.
As a material, aluminum can very easily be fabricated into different forms and designs like sheets, shapes, rods, tubes, and wires. Because of this, products made from aluminum can be formed close to the end of the manufacturing process.
Aluminum is corrosion resistant because it generates a protective coating on its surface called aluminum oxide. This protective layer prevents the metal underneath from coming into contact with potential corroders like air and oxygen.
Even when the surface of the aluminum is scratched, the aluminum oxide layer will rapidly reform and retain protection. Moreover, this protective layer can be further improved through different types of surface treatments like painting or lacquering.
Possessing such a property makes aluminum particularly useful for constructing buildings and household utensils.
One of the most impressive properties of aluminum is its sustainability – it is a 100% recyclable and sustainable metal. There is a secondary metal sector within the aluminum industry that re-melts scrapped aluminum products and recovers the metal in it. There is no downside to this since only 5% of the energy required to produce new aluminum is needed in the recycling process.
On top of this, the basic use of aluminum lowers energy cost and carbon emissions in many applications similar to how cars made from aluminum function more efficiently and environmentally-friendly.
It doesn’t stop there, though, the aluminum industry is still making improvements in the primary and secondary processes of making aluminum to make it more environmentally efficient.
There are many reasons aluminum is such a widely used product but most of it boils down to its many amazing properties which got it the title of “the miracle metal.” It is lightweight, strong and durable, conductive, ductile, corrosion resistant, and recyclable.
These properties make for a versatile material that gives manufacturers like One Sky Aluminum a wide range of options in terms of product innovation and process improvements.