Aluminium has properties that have made it indispensable in the modern world. It is light yet durable, flexible and non corrosive. It is even something that can be recycled to retain its original properties in full. As a result, it is something that is extremely important in construction, excellent when one of the priorities is lightness yet strength, and widely used in packaging of different kinds. How many drinks cans do you think are produced each year? So where does it come from and who is responsible for producing such a valuable material for today’s world?
An aluminium composite panel has many uses
Fiction and fact
The story goes that 2000 years ago Pliny gave Roman Emperor Tiberius a very light metal goblet; his reward was to have his hand cut off for devaluing gold and silver. No, it isn’t true but the origins of aluminium do go back centuries.
It really emerged though in the 18th Century with the experiments of a German scientist Andreas Marggraf who produced aluminium oxide and Hans-Christian Ooersted who produced aluminium chloride half a century later. He heated it with potassium and produced a metal, published his results and moved on. In 1808 Humphry Davy had known the metal existed and indeed had named it but he had been unable to isolate it, a task Ooersted did twenty years later.
Another German Friedrich Wohler then spent almost 20 years producing an ingot. There was still no means of economic production when aluminium tableware was used at Napoleon’s table in the 1855 World Exhibition in Paris but it caused a furore. Its creator Saint-Claire Deville was an industrialist and chemist but few items were made other than jewellery because of the cost of production.
That problem was solved, as many were, as the Industrial Revolution progressed through electrolysis. Two people did it simultaneously, an American student Charles Hall and another Frenchman, Paul Heroult.
It required a good deal of power so the first smelter was built near a waterfall on the Rhine. An Austrian, Karl Josef Bayer, improved the process and the methods used by these three gentlemen are still used today. Pure aluminium was improved by adding small quantities of magnesium and cuprum and for that we have Alfred Wilm to thank just before the outbreak of the First World War.
Over the years it became the main material used in aviation, an industry that has grown relentlessly over the past decades. It is lightweight, low maintenance and non corrosive, everything that the industry needs.
A century on from Alfred Wilm, what would the world do without aluminium? World production was just 8,000 tonnes per annum back then; now it is 24m tonnes!
If you have any involvement in construction or advertising an aluminium composite panel may be just what you need. It is lightweight and therefore easily portable. Display boards and partitions, advertising signage and ceiling boards are inevitably made of aluminium. You can easily find out more by getting in touch with a quality supplier.