Properties & Uses of Aluminum..!!
If we look at any thing in our environment, it’s not free of aluminum and its compounds. It made a great revolution such that many materials where substituted by aluminum and its compounds. The properties of aluminum are so splendid that any thing can be done with it. The basic properties of aluminum includes its ductility and malleability, allowing it to be drawn easily in the form of wire & can be hammered to any shape. Also it is anti-corrosive nature worked wonders in case of constructional materials used in offshore platforms and marine structures. It is also of very less weight with adequate strength and structural stability. It is thermally & electrical conductive in nature. It is versatile too..Literally the aluminum which was produced for the first time, is still somewhere in use. It can be recycled infinitely.
Uses Of Aluminum:
1. Automotive Industry: Today everyone talk about the “Hybrid cars, electric cars, bio-fuels etc..”..But all these things come only secondary. The automotive engineers at the first step aim at the weight reduction. They feel that weight of a vehicle is the “Killer of Efficiency”. The world instead of using steel and other counterparts started to use aluminum, which greatly reduced the weight of the vehicles. Every components like piston, cylinder heads, car hood, doors, frames, wheel rims & radiators etc.. got substituted with aluminum, thus reducing fuel consumption, and there by the Green House Gases(G.H.G). This also improved vehicles speed and efficiency and reduced the pollution levels.
- Aviation: Is it posible for an aircraft to take-off if the body is built of heavy material? Definitely yes. But with a more high powered engine, lengthy run ways and reduced cargo/passenger capacity. With the use of
aluminum, the engine power and in turn the amount of fuel used drastically came down,thus causing minimal pollution.
3. Electrical Power Distribution: Ever wondered what material is used for electrical power transmission all over the world? It is aluminum. To be specific, we use ACSR–aluminum conductor with steel re-inforcement. They are used for many electrical benefits like low Corona loss & Skin effect. The life span of these wires are more thus reducing the maintenance & erection costs.These conductors are comparatively cheaper than copper, with lesser power loss.
4. Cooking, Beverage Cans & Packing materials: We all know that right from soft drinks to beer, everyone
prefers to take in a can rather glass bottles. Also if we have a closer look, for each and every cooking utensil has aluminum in it and not to forget the aluminum foil wrappers used for ice-creams, yoghurts and for covering the cooked food.
5. Also not to forget the usage of aluminum for the building and construction, like roofing, sliding windows etc & for even sports equipments like golf clubs and baseball bats.
Many industries claim that usage of aluminum minimized the “carbon foot print”. The vehicles produced lesser amount og green house gases and saved fuel in a drastic way. Also the main advantage is aluminum can be “re-cycled” with almost nil addition of extra raw materials. What ever that have been produced, can be re-cycled and restored on shelf for further use within 60 days.
1. Aluminum primary production requires tremendous energy, which produces green house gases aggravating the “global warming”.Facts from IAI(International Aluminum Institute), states that production of new stocks of aluminum releases 1% of global human induced green house gas emission. But recycling of aluminum, saves about 95% of the energy required for the primary production, thus reducing the green house gases and global warming.
2. If every kilogram of heavier material is replaced with aluminum,it is found that it eliminates 22 Kg of carbon-di-oxide, over the life time of the vehicle.
3. Not restricting to the automotive industry, the accommodation part previously been built with steel has been replaced with aluminum, in ships. Imagine the number of accommodation rooms available in a cruise ship, its been found that after
replacing with aluminum, then entire ship’s fuel consumption has reduced saving millions of dollars in the operating cost. This also keeps in check, the tonnes of exhaust gas coming out of the ship’s funnel stack, reducing air pollution and global warming. In merchant vessels, the cargo carrying capacity is increased thus reducing the number of voyages for transportation of goods.
1. In automobile industry, by substituting high strength low weight aluminum in place of steel, with every 10% weight reduction, about 5 to 7 % of fuel is saved.
2. Vehicles manufactured in the year of 2006, with aluminum parts, saves around 140 million tons of carbon-di-oxide & saving energy equivalent to 16 billion gallons of crude oil over the entire life of the vehicles.
3. Annual primary production reaching 24.8 million tons in 2007. Most output goes in making 187 billion aluminum cans.
Human Health Effects: It is evident that aluminum is widely used & most found metal in the Earth’s crust. This “Innocent metal” has plenty hazards when people get exposed to high concentrations( beyond threshold limit). Aluminum are ready to form as ions which is easily soluble in water thus causing major health problems. They get inside the human body through injection, ingestion and inhalation.Long lasting exposure may cause
2. Nervous Disorder,
4. Pulmonary Fibrosis,
5. Alzheimer’s Disease. etc..
Health Hazards to Flora & Fauna: The main challenge faced by the agriculturist is the acidification of the soil, which happens due to aluminum too. These aluminum readily forms ions that get soluble in water thus leaches the nutrients in the soil, leaving it acidic. These aluminum based acids still continue its journey reaching the herbivorous animals which eat these plants. These plants are already affected by the aluminum based acids. Not confining to this alone, it also cause hazards to birds which get fed from lakes which are acidified.These acidified lakes breaks the eco-system, causing decline in fishes and amphibians life. Thus the environment natural eco-chain is disturbed and leads to major disaster in some places. Thus aluminum, even though it helps in cutting down the carbon foot print and GHG’s, on the other side, it affects the human & other living organims life.
Image & content credits:
I.A.I –International Aluminum Institute