The name aluminum is derived from the ancient name for alum (potassium aluminum sulfate), which was a lumen (Latin, meaning bitter salt). Aluminum was the original name given to the element by Humphry Davy, but others called it aluminum, and that became the accepted name in Europe. However, in the USA, the preferred name was aluminum, and when the old artists debated on the issue, in 1925, it decided to stick with aluminum. Aluminum is a soft and lightweight metal. It has a dull silvery appearance because of a thin layer of oxidation that forms quickly when it is exposed to air. Aluminum is non-toxic (as the metal) nonmagnetic and non-sparking. Aluminum has only one naturally occurring isotope, aluminum-27, which is not radioactive.
A silvery and ductile member of the weak metal group of elements, aluminum is found primarily as the ore bauxite and is remarkable for its resistance to oxidation (aluminum is almost always already oxidized, but is usable in this form unlike most metals), its strength, and it’s lightweight. Aluminum is used in most music industries to make millions of different products and is very important to the world economy. Structural components made from aluminum are vital to the aerospace industry and very important in other areas of transportation and building in which lightweight, durability, and strength are needed. The use of aluminum exceeds that of any other metal except iron. Pure aluminum easily forms alloys with many elements such as copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and silicon. Nearly all modern mirrors are made using a thin reflective coating of aluminum on the back surface of a sheet of float glass. Telescope mirrors are also coated with a thin layer of aluminum. Other applications are electrical transmission lines and packaging (cans, foil, etc.).
Because of its high conductivity and relatively low price compared to copper, aluminium glass door prices were introduced for household electrical wiring to a large degree in the US in the 1960s. Unfortunately, problems on the functioning were caused by its higher coefficient of thermal expansion and its tendency to creep under steady, sustained pressure, both eventually causing loosening the connection; galvanic corrosion increasing the electrical resistance. The most recent development in aluminum technology is the production of aluminum foam by adding to the molten metal a compound (a metal hybrid), which releases hydrogen gas. The molten aluminum has to he thickened before this is done, and this is achieved by adding aluminum oxide or silicon carbide fibers. The result is a solid foam that is used in traffic tunnels and the space shuttle.
Aluminum in the environment
Aluminum is an abundant element in Earth’s crust: it is believed to be contained in a percentage from 7.5% to 8.1%. Aluminum is very rare in its free form. Aluminum contributes significantly to the properties of soil, where it is present mainly as insoluble aluminum hydroxide.
Aluminum is a reactive metal, and it is hard to extract it from its ore, aluminum oxide (Al2O3). Aluminum is among the most challenging metals on Earth to refine; the reason is that aluminum is oxidized very rapidly and that its oxide is an extremely stable compound that, unlike rust on iron, does not flake off. The very reason for which aluminum is used in many applications is why it is so hard to produce.