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Key People:Hans Christian ØrstedEmil RathenauFriedrich WöhlerCharles boy name Hall...(Show more)Related Topics:Chemical elementAluminum processingBoron team element...(Show more)

aluminum (Al), also spelled aluminium, chemical element, a lightweight silvery white metal of main group 13 (IIIa, or boron group) that the periodic table. Aluminum is the most abundant metallic facet in earth crust and the most widely used nonferrous metal. Since of its chemical activity, aluminum never occurs in the metallic form in nature, however its link are existing to a higher or lesser level in nearly all rocks, vegetation, and animals. Aluminum is focused in the external 16 kilometres (10 miles) of earth’s crust, of which the constitutes about 8 percent by weight; the is exceeded in amount only by oxygen and also silicon. The surname aluminum is acquired from the Latin word alumen, provided to explain potash alum, or aluminum potassium sulfate, KAl(SO4)2∙12H2O.

Element Propertiesatomic numberatomic weightmelting pointboiling pointspecific gravityvalenceelectron configuration
660 °C (1,220 °F)
2,467 °C (4,473 °F)
2.70 (at 20 °C <68 °F>)

Occurrence and also history

Aluminum wake up in igneous rocks chiefly together aluminosilicates in feldspars, feldspathoids, and micas; in the soil derived from them as clay; and upon more weathering as bauxite and also iron-rich laterite. Bauxite, a mixture of hydrated aluminum oxides, is the primary aluminum ore. Crystalline aluminum oxide (emery, corundum), which wake up in a few igneous rocks, is mined as a herbal abrasive or in that is finer arrays as rubies and also sapphires. Aluminum is current in other gemstones, such as topaz, garnet, and chrysoberyl. That the plenty of other aluminum minerals, alunite and also cryolite have some advertisement importance.


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Before 5000 bce world in Mesopotamia were making fine pottery from a clay that consisted mostly of an aluminum compound, and virtually 4,000 years earlier Egyptians and Babylonians used aluminum compound in assorted chemicals and medicines. Pliny refers to alumen, now well-known as alum, a link of aluminum extensively employed in the old and medieval human being to deal with dyes in textiles. In the latter half of the 18th century, chemists such as Antoine Lavoisier well-known alumina as the potential source of a metal.

Crude aluminum was isolated (1825) by Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted by reducing aluminum chloride through potassium amalgam. Brother chemist sir Humphry Davy had actually prepared (1809) one iron-aluminum alloy by electrolyzing fused alumina (aluminum oxide) and had already named the facet aluminum; the word later on was modified to aluminium in England and also some various other European countries. German chemist Friedrich Wöhler, making use of potassium steel as the to reduce agent, created aluminum powder (1827) and little globules of the steel (1845), from which he was able to determine some of its properties.

The new metal was presented to the general public (1855) at the Paris Exposition at about the time the it became obtainable (in little amounts at an excellent expense) through the salt reduction that molten aluminum chloride through the Deville process. When electric power became relatively plentiful and cheap, virtually simultaneously Charles Martin hall in the unified States and also Paul-Louis-Toussaint Héroult in France uncovered (1886) the modern method of commercially producing aluminum: electrolysis of purified alumina (Al2O3) liquified in molten cryolite (Na3AlF6). During the 1960s aluminum relocated into first place, front of copper, in civilization production of nonferrous metals. For more specific information about the mining, refining, and also production of aluminum, see aluminum processing.

Uses and properties

Aluminum is added in little amounts to particular metals to improve their properties for specific uses, together in aluminum bronzes and most magnesium-base alloys; or, for aluminum-base alloys, moderate amounts of other metals and silicon are added to aluminum. The metal and its alloys room used broadly for plane construction, building materials, customer durables (refrigerators, waiting conditioners, cooking utensils), electrical conductors, and also chemical and also food-processing equipment.

Pure aluminum (99.996 percent) is fairly soft and weak; advertising aluminum (99 to 99.6 percent pure) with tiny amounts the silicon and iron is hard and strong. Ductile and also highly malleable, aluminum deserve to be attracted into cable or rolled into thin foil. The steel is only about one-third as thick as iron or copper. Despite chemically active, aluminum is nevertheless very corrosion-resistant, since in wait a hard, tough oxide film develops on its surface.

Aluminum is an excellent conductor the heat and also electricity. Its heat conductivity is around one-half that of copper; its electrical conductivity, about two-thirds. That crystallizes in the face-centred cubic structure. All natural aluminum is the steady isotope aluminum-27. Metallic aluminum and also its oxide and hydroxide space nontoxic.

Aluminum is slowly attacked by most dilute acids and also rapidly dissolves in focused hydrochloric acid. Concentrated nitric acid, however, can be shipped in aluminum tank cars since it makes the metal passive. Even really pure aluminum is vigorously attacked by alkalies such as sodium and also potassium hydroxide to productivity hydrogen and also the aluminate ion. Since of its good affinity for oxygen, carefully divided aluminum, if ignited, will certainly burn in carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide v the formation of aluminum oxide and carbide, but, at temperatures as much as red heat, aluminum is inert to sulfur.

Aluminum can be detected in concentrations as low as one component per million by method of emission spectroscopy. Aluminum deserve to be quantitatively analyzed as the oxide (formula Al2O3) or together a derivative of the essential nitrogen link 8-hydroxyquinoline. The derivative has the molecule formula Al(C9H6ON)3.


Ordinarily, aluminum is trivalent. In ~ elevated temperatures, however, a couple of gaseous monovalent and also bivalent compounds have actually been all set (AlCl, Al2O, AlO). In aluminum the construction of the three external electrons is such that in a couple of compounds (e.g., crystalline aluminum fluoride and aluminum chloride ) the ceiling ion, Al3+, formed by ns of this electrons, is well-known to occur. The power required to type the Al3+ ion, however, is really high, and, in the majority of cases, it is energetically more favourable for the aluminum atom to kind covalent link by method of sp2 hybridization, together boron does. The Al3+ ion deserve to be stabilized through hydration, and the octahedral ion 3+ occurs both in aqueous solution and also in number of salts.

A number of aluminum compound have important industrial applications. Alumina, which occurs in nature as corundum, is additionally prepared commercially in large quantities for use in the manufacturing of aluminum metal and the to produce of insulators, spark plugs, and also various other products. ~ above heating, alumina creates a porous structure, which permits it to adsorb water vapour. This form of aluminum oxide, commercially well-known as set off alumina, is provided for drying gases and certain liquids. It likewise serves as a carrier for catalysts of assorted chemical reactions.

Anodic aluminum oxide (AAO), commonly produced via the electrochemical oxidation that aluminum, is a nanostructured aluminum-based product with a very unique structure. AAO has cylindrical pores that provide for a selection of uses. It is a thermally and mechanically steady compound while likewise being optically transparent and an electric insulator. The sharp size and thickness of AAO can quickly be tailored to fit specific applications, consisting of acting together a theme for synthesizing materials into nanotubes and also nanorods.

Another significant compound is aluminum sulfate, a colourless salt derived by the activity of sulfuric mountain on sign language aluminum oxide. The commercial type is a hydrated crystalline solid through the chemical formula Al2(SO4)3. That is used generally in record manufacture together a binder because that dyes and as a surface filler. Aluminum sulfate combines v the sulfates the univalent metals to form hydrated twin sulfates called alums. The alums, double salts the formula MAl(SO4)2 ·12H2O (where M is a singly fee cation such as K+), additionally contain the Al3+ ion; M can be the cation of sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, ammonium, or thallium, and also the aluminum might be replaced by a variety of various other M3+ ions—e.g., gallium, indium, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron, or cobalt. The most important of such salts is aluminum potassium sulfate, likewise known as potassium alum or potash alum. This alums have many applications, specifically in the production of medicines, textiles, and also paints.

The reaction of gaseous chlorine v molten aluminum steel produces aluminum chloride; the latter is the most typically used catalyst in Friedel-Crafts reactions—i.e., man-made organic reactions associated in the prepare of a wide range of compounds, including fragrant ketones and anthroquinone and also its derivatives. Sign language aluminum chloride, generally known as aluminum chlorohydrate, AlCl3∙H2O, is provided as a subject antiperspirant or body deodorant, which acts by constricting the pores. It is one of several aluminum salts employed by the cosmetics industry.

Aluminum hydroxide, Al(OH)3, is offered to waterproof fabrics and to develop a variety of other aluminum compounds, consisting of salts referred to as aluminates the contain the AlO−2 group. V hydrogen, aluminum forms aluminum hydride, AlH3, a polymeric solid from which are acquired the tetrohydroaluminates (important reduce agents). Lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4), formed by the reaction that aluminum chloride v lithium hydride, is widely supplied in organic chemistry—e.g., to mitigate aldehydes and ketones to main and secondary alcohols, respectively.

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This short article was many recently revised and updated through Erik Gregersen, an elderly Editor.