Aluminium is the most abundant metallic element in the earth's crust. Its lightness, electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance and low melting point provide a variety of applications, especially in aeronautical engineering solutions. However, even with the low cost for recycling, which increases its service life and the stability of its value, the high amount of energy needed for its production greatly reduce its scope.
Aluminium is one of the economic symbols of the 21st century. The multi-billion dollar industry is present in the transport sectors, which is responsible for about 30% of US production of the commodity. Packaging and containers account for over 20% of total production. Construction is around 10%. High voltage power lines are often made of aluminium. This is a business that moves billions of dollars.
The major aluminium-producing countries are the United States, Russia , Japan and Canada.
It is the second most malleable metal , the first gold, and the sixth most ductile . Being a good conductor of heat, it is widely used in cooking pots and laptop computers.
The use of aluminium exceeds that of any other metal, other than steel. It is an important material in multiple economic activities.
Pure aluminium is ductile with respect to steel , but used as an alloy with small amounts of copper, manganese, silicon, magnesium and other elements contain a large number of characteristics suitable for various applications . These alloys are the main materials used for the production of many components in aircraft and rockets.
Due to its high chemical reactivity when finely powdered, it is used as a solid rocket fuel, and for the production of explosives. It is still used as sacrificial anode and aluminothermic processes for obtaining metals.
In ancient Rome, alumiunium was used in dyeing and medicine.
Its first use is usually attributed to Friedrich Wöhler, occurring in 1827, although the metal had been obtained crudely some years earlier by Hans Christian Ørsted.
In 1807, Humphrey Davy proposed the name aluminum for this metal, still undiscovered. Later the name was changed to aluminium for consistency with most other Latin names of the elements that use the -ium suffix. Thus occurred the derivation of the current element names in other languages. However, in the United States, with time it became popular the other way, today also admitted by IUPAC.
Although aluminium is a metal found in abundance in the earth's crust (8.1%), it is rarely found free . Its industrial applications are relatively recent, being produced on an industrial scale from the late nineteenth century . When it was discovered, it was found that its separation from the rocks contained, was extremely difficult. Consequently, for some time, it had been considered a precious metal more precious than gold. With the advancement of processes for obtaining prices continued to fall to collapse in 1889, due to the previous discovery of a simple method of metal extraction. Currently, one of the factors that stimulate its use is the stability of its price, maintained mainly by recycling.
Futures contracts and aluminium options traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) provide transparency for the US aluminium market. This market moves about 35 billion dollars in production and export anually.
The Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) and Metal Commodity Exchange of London (LME) also provide aluminium.