Metalwork - Materials - Aluminium
Aluminium is the third most plentiful element of the Earth. Its special properties have led this very light metal to be one of the most well known and most used. In its pure form Aluminium is pretty useless. Its alloyed Properties make this metal one of the materials with most applications.
Aluminium has another property that hugley increases its value, especially in today's society where conservation of the enviornment is so important. Aluminium is totally recycleable without any loss to its physical properties.
Aluminium Ore, most commonly Bauxite, is very plentiful and is found mainly in tropical areas, such as Africa, West Indies, South America and Australia, where it is mined through Open Cast Mining, which you can see to the left. There are also some smaller deposits in Europe. Bauxite is converted into Aluminium Oxide Trihydrate but you can also call it Alumina and then electrolytically converted into Aluminium. Aluminium production facilities are located all over the world, usually in areas where there are abundant supplies of inexpensive energy, such as hydro-electric power.(Below this section you can see a map of the countries that are involved in the conversion of Bauxite to Aluminium.) In Ireland we have a large Alumina plant, (left). Aughinish Alumina Limited, (Alcan) is located at Aughinish Island, Askeaton, County Limerick. The plant sits on 350 acres of the 1,000-acre island in the River Shannon. About 90% to 95% of the Bauxite is shipped in from the Alcan mine in Guinea. The company annually produces about 1.4 million metric tons of Alumina from about 3 million metric tons of bauxite ore. You can vist the Aughinish web site at Aughinish Alumina Limited.
The red countries are involved in the production of Aluminium
Other advantages of Aluminium include :
In many peoples eyes the most important fact about Aluminium is that it is completely recycleable, and it has to be said that this is a huge advantage. In today's society where saving the enviornment and the Ozone layer is so important, a metal that can be recycled with no loss of properties is invaluable. There are many recycling bins around Ireland for Aluminium cans. These cans are re-melted and then reused. This process uses less power than converting the Aluminium from Bauxite, so the Ozone layer gains, and because this Aluminium did not have to be mined, the enviornment gains.
The world's industry produces around 22 million tonnes of primary Aluminium a year, (that is Aluminium from the mines). And for every tonne of Aluminium 4 tonnes of Bauxite must be mined. In addition to primary production, more than 7 million tonnes per annum of Aluminium is produced from recycled scrap. The proportion of aluminium produced from scrap (so called secondary aluminium) is rising rapidly.