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Aluminum - Advantages and Properties of Aluminum

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Physically, chemically and mechanically, aluminum is a metal similar to steel, brass, copper, zinc, lead or titanium. It can be melted, cast, formed and machined in a similar way to these metals and conducts electric currents. In fact, often the same equipment and fabrication methods are used as for steel.

Light Weight

Aluminum is a very light metal with a specific weight of 2.7 g/cm3, about a third of that of steel. This cuts the costs of manufacturing with aluminum. Again, its use in vehicles reduces dead-weight and energy consumption while increasing load capacity. This also reduces noise and improves comfort levels.

Its strength can be adapted to the application required by modifying the composition of its alloys. Aluminum-magnesium-manganese alloys are an optimum mix of formability with strength, while aluminum-magnesium-silicon alloys are ideal for automobile body sheets, which show good age-hardening when subjected to the bake-on painting process.

Corrosion Resistance

Aluminum naturally generates a protective thin oxide coating which keeps the metal from making further contact with the environment. It is particularly useful for applications where it is exposed to corroding agents, as in kitchen cabinets and in vehicles. In general, aluminum alloys are less corrosion-resistant than pure aluminum, except for marine magnesium-aluminum alloys. Different types of surface treatment such as anodising, painting or lacquering can further improve this property.

Electrical and Thermal Conductivity

Aluminum is an excellent heat and electricity conductor and in relation to its weight is almost twice as good a conductor as copper. This has made aluminum the first choice for major power transmission lines. It is also a superb heat sink for many applications that require heat to be drained away rapidly, such as in computer motherboards and LED lights.

Reflectivity

Aluminum is a good reflector of visible light as well as heat, and that together with its low weight, makes it an ideal material for reflectors in, for example, light fittings or rescue blankets. Cool roofs made of coated aluminum are invaluable in reducing internal solar heat within a house, by reflecting up to 95% of sunlight.

Ductility

Aluminum is ductile and has a low melting point and density. It can be processed in several ways in a molten condition. Its ductility allows aluminum products to be formed close to the end of the product’s design. Whether sheets, foil, geometrical configurations, tubes, rods or wires, aluminum is up to them all.

Strength at Low Temperatures

In contrast to steel, which rapidly becomes brittle at low temperatures, aluminum shows increased tensile strength as temperatures drop.

Impermeable and Odorless

Aluminum foil is only 0.007 mm in thickness, but is still durable and completely impermeable, keeping any food wrapped in it free of external tastes or smells. It keeps out ultraviolet rays as well.

Moreover, the metal itself is non-toxic and odorless, which makes it ideal for packaging sensitive products such as food or pharmaceuticals. The fact that recycled aluminum can be used reduces the carbon footprint for this stage of food and beverage manufacturers as well.

Non-magnetic

Aluminum is non-magnetic, making it useful for electrical shieldings as in computer disks, dish antennas, busbars or magnet housings.

Non-toxic

Aluminum is non-toxic and is used to make woks, pressure cookers and many other cooking utensils without fear. It is easily cleaned and does not contaminate the food at any stage.

Sound and Shock Absorption

Aluminum is an excellent sound absorber and is used for constructing ceilings. It is also used in auto bumpers due to its shock-absorbing properties.

Non-sparking

Aluminum produces no sparks when it comes into contact with itself or non-ferrous metals.

Recyclability

Aluminum is 100% recyclable and recycled aluminum is identical to the virgin product. This makes it a much more cost-effective source material for production runs. The re-melting of aluminum requires little energy: only about 5% of the energy required to produce the primary metal initially is needed in the recycling process.

Sources and Further Reading

This article was updated on 25th June, 2019

Comments

  1. Gemu Mathayo Gemu Mathayo Tanzania says:

    What is the resistivity and conductivity of an aluminium when it is used as probe sensor into water or fuel tank?

  2. chinedu christopher chinedu christopher Nigeria says:

    to what extent can a customer be assured on your product

  3. Norman Lee Pickett Norman Lee Pickett United States says:

    How does aluminum react to cold?

    • Toby Cirel Toby Cirel United Kingdom says:

      it shrinks

      • bryton zastoupil bryton zastoupil United States says:

        no it does not

  4. Norman Lee Pickett Norman Lee Pickett United States says:

    I have an aluminum flashlight with screw on cap somehow molded to threads and unable to unscrew. Need help detaching cap to replace batteries. Will heating or cooling help?

    • opkiller82 opkiller82 United States says:

      it will help is you heat until you can smell then stop immediately!!!! When it starts to smell put it down to make sure its not the battery for about 15 secs reheat for about 5-10 seconds and try to twist then immediately take out batteries.

  5. Rockford Johnson Rockford Johnson United States says:

    Reading this article has helped me to understand the benefits that come with working with aluminum. I never would have guessed that aluminum is corrosion resistant  and has a protective oxide coating. I hope this article can help us to know what material is best the next time we are remodeling our home.

  6. Aluminium Trading Aluminium Trading South Africa says:

    Excellent article, very insightful and informative. Thank you. The Impermeable and Odourless information was particularly interesting for me, even though I work at a South African aluminium company!

  7. Calum Boyce Calum Boyce Australia says:

    Is aluminium waterproof?

    • Toby Cirel Toby Cirel United Kingdom says:

      Yes

    • bryton zastoupil bryton zastoupil United States says:

      all metals are water proof except mercury because its a liquid it would just mix

  8. Hafeni Kandjimbi Hafeni Kandjimbi Namibia says:

    nice

  9. bryton zastoupil bryton zastoupil United States says:

    how does aluminum generate the protective oxide coating

  10. jess h jess h United Kingdom says:

    how sustainable is aluminium

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoM.com.

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