Aluminium Recycling: An Energy-Efficient Solution

Because metal can be recycled multiple times, almost two-thirds of all aluminum produced in the United States is still used today.

Fremont, CA: Aluminum is all around us, and its applications are endless. Aluminum is used to make four out of every five drink cans, as well as a variety of other types of packaging. Building and construction, transportation, appliances, heating and ventilation systems, and electrical and communications systems all use it significantly.

Aluminum is the third most prevalent element in the Earth's crust, after oxygen and silicon, and by far the most abundant metal. Because aluminum does not occur in its purest form in nature, it has only been in widespread usage since the late 1800s, when scientists and engineers devised methods for extracting it from the ground. Bauxite is the most prevalent source of aluminum ore. It is primarily found in tropical and subtropical regions of the globe. Australia and China are the world's largest bauxite producers.

Because aluminum is malleable, it can be pressed into any shape. It may be hammered and dragged out into wires due to its ductile characteristics. It has excellent heat and electrical conductivity, is rust-resistant, inflammable, non-toxic, non-magnetic, and non-sparking, and may be alloyed with almost any other metal. It is because of these characteristics that it has been widely used and appreciated in value over the last century and a half. Only 8,000 tons of aluminum were produced in 1900. A total of 57.6 million tons were produced in 2016.

Aluminum extraction is a three-step procedure. To reveal the bauxite, a red soil and clay mixture, large expanses of land are bulldozed. The bauxite is refined using chemical procedures to remove silica and iron oxides, resulting in alumina, which is then electrolyzed to make molten aluminum. To make one ton of molten aluminum, four tons of bauxite are required.