Published Online: 15 JUL 2009
Copyright © 2002 by Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry
How to Cite
Frank, W. B., Haupin, W. E., Vogt, H., Bruno, M., Thonstad, J., Dawless, R. K., Kvande, H. and Taiwo, O. A. 2009. Aluminum. Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. .
- Published Online: 15 JUL 2009
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Aluminum [7429-90-5] is a silver-white metal of group 13 of the periodic table. It is the most abundant metallic element in the earth's crust, but is never found in nature in its elemental state. It occurs mainly as very stable oxides, hydroxides, and silicates. The first commercial aluminum was produced in 1854 by H. Saint-Claire Deville by reaction of sodium metal with molten sodium aluminum chloride, but mass production of aluminum awaited the invention in 1886 of electrolytic reduction of alumina dissolved in molten cryolite, independently invented by C. M. Hall in the USA and P. Héroult in France. All industrial production of aluminum today is done in Hall–Héroult cells with prebaked carbon or self-baking Söderberg anodes. Aluminum has many desirable physical properties. It is malleable and lightweight. Pure aluminum is relatively soft and weak, but it forms many strong alloys. It has high thermal and electrical conductivity. Aluminum's adherent surface oxide film makes it corrosion resistant. It resists attack by most acids, but alkaline solutions dissolve the oxide film and cause rapid corrosion.