Light, durable and functional: these are the qualities that make aluminium one of the key engineering materials of our time. We can find aluminium in the homes we live in, in the automobiles we drive, in the trains and aeroplanes that take us across long distances, in themobile phones and computers we use on a daily basis, in the shelves inside our fridges and in modern interior designs, but a mere 200 years ago very little was known about this metal.
At the same time, because it easily binds with other elements, pure aluminium does not occur in nature. This is the reason that people learned about it relatively recently. Formally aluminium was produced for the first time in 1824 and it took people another fifty years to learn to produce it on an industrial scale.
Annual Demand of Aluminium
Worldwide demand for aluminium is around 29 million tons per year. About 22 million tons is new aluminium and 7 million tons is recycled aluminium scrap. The use of recycled aluminium is economically and environmentally compelling. It takes 14,000 kWh to produce 1 tonne of new aluminium. Conversely it takes only 5% of this to remelt and recycle one tonne of aluminium. There is no difference in quality between virgin and recycled aluminium alloys.
Applications of Aluminium
By utilising various combinations of its advantageous properties such as strength, lightness, corrosion resistance, recyclability and formability, aluminium is being employed in an ever-increasing number of applications. This array of products ranges from structural materials through to thin packaging foils.