A brief History of Aluminium and its uses

Aluminium is one of the most popular metals ever discovered. Its light weight and resistant properties are ideal for a variety of uses, not to mention its largely non-toxic make up. Its very handy for a wide range of uses such as aeronautics, containers, cans and even for storage of some medicines. It’s surprising that aluminium is actually a recent addition to the range of metals that we humans use. But how did this come about?

Aluminium has always been a element which is abundant in the natural environment however, the metal has not yet been discovered in living organisms like sulphur or iron. The first uses of the metal stem back to the Romans and Ancient Greeks who use aluminium salts for dyes as well as dressing wounds.

Humphry Davis was the first to formally identify the element in 1808. He struggled to confirm a name for the metal which lead to discrepancies between the English version ‘aluminium and the American version ‘aluminium.’ A pure form of the metal was then produced by Danish chemist and physicist Hans Christian Orsted who reported that the end results look a bit like Tin. Enhanced were made to refine the metal to achieve a much purer product produced in the mid 1850’s.

The metal was actually very expensive due to the difficult in which it was produced. At one time it was valued higher than Gold, demonstrated by Napoleon III who once help a banquet in which the honoured guests used aluminium cutlery and goblets whist guests of a lesser standing had to make do with gold.

There are several other aluminium items from the Victorian era such as the capstone for the Washington monument which was erected in 1884. During this time period, the value of just an ounce of aluminium would equate to the daily wage of one of the construction workers. There a famous statues that are made from aluminium such as the statue of Anteros in Picadilly Circus.

Towards the end of the 1800s the materials was known and use all over the world after the cost of its mass production was reduced significantly by two metal industrialists named Charles Martin Hall of Ohio and Paul Heroult of France. They developed the Hall-Heroult proccess that still remains the most popular way of extracting and refining, greatly reducing costs. Aluminium was used for the dome of the Chief Secretary’s building the Australian capital. Aluminium is now used for the super structure of ships due to its lightweight density. There were uses such as wiring, however, there were numerous corrosion-failures which lead to the metal being replaced with Copper.

To find out more about aluminium and metal plates, visit www.clickmetal.co.uk today for a selection of metal components cut to your specification and available online. 

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