How is aluminum made

What is aluminum

How is aluminum made?

First of all will aluminum not produced in the classical sense, as is the case with aluminum alloys, as it is an element - it is extracted. About the story: Egyptian and Babylonian doctors have already discoveredover 4,000 years agothat potassium aluminum sulfate is an excellent aid to stop bleeding - without knowing that it contains the light metal that is at stake here. This remedy has actually proven itself to this day, because a so-called alum stick for use after a wet shave can still be found in every well-stocked drugstore. The name "aluminum" is also derived from "alumen" - the Latin word foralum. But the aluminum, like ustoday know, as well as its extraction, remained until beforeunknown for almost 200 years.


Myths and legends about aluminum

Aluminum - the unknown metal - at least if you ignore a legend: the Roman writerPliny the Elder reported that a metal worker in the palace ofEmperor Tiberius appeared and offered him a vessel as a gift. It shone like silver on the outside, but it was astonishingly light. This puzzled the emperor, so he asked the worker where this metal could be found.

This claimed that he himself had it offclayey soil produced. Emperor Tiberius believed him; this statement alone did not make him satisfied. Wanting to know exactly, he investigated and asked the metalworker if anyone else had any knowledge of theorigin and the production of the new metal.

His answer: "Just Jupiter and I alone". And this was to be his undoing. Because the emperor feared that this new material could overtake gold and silver. And so Emperor Tiberius had the metalworker's workshop destroyed, which was ultimately to be a head shorter. This tragedy (at least from the metalworker's point of view), the invention of the new metal was lost for many centuries - so thatLegend.

And indeed, aluminum was for a whilemore expensive than gold, but it can be assumed that the story of Tiberius and the metalworker can be attributed to the realm of fantasy rather than reality. Theenormous amounts of energyand high temperaturesthat are necessary for production could simply not be achieved with the means of that time.


From the first steps to industrial production

The discovery of the metal as we know it today is the Danish natural scientistHans Christian Oersted Thanks to. In 1825, he was the first person to be able to extract aluminum by reducing aluminum chloride with potassium amalgam - albeit initially in an impure form. The German chemist succeeded two years laterFriedrich Woehlerto obtain a higher degree of purity. However, it would take a good 60 more years before aluminum production reached today's standards.

In 1886, the American inventor Charles Martin Hall and the French chemist Paul Héroult independently developed what is known today asHall-Héroult trialknown processes for industrialFusion electrolysis. A year later, the Austrian chemist Carl Josef Bayer improved the method and was named after theBayer process. It is still used today to convert the mineral bauxite into sufficiently pure aluminum oxide to subsequently convert it in the Hall-Héroult processto win metallic aluminum.