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Key People:Hans Christian ØrstedEmil RathenauFriedrich WöhlerCharles boy name Hall...(Show more)Related Topics:chemical elementaluminum processingboron group element...(Show more)

aluminum (Al), also spelled aluminium, chemical element, a lightweight silvery white metal of main team 13 (IIIa, or boron group) the the regular table. Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element in earth crust and the most widely provided nonferrous metal. Due to the fact that of its chemical activity, aluminum never occurs in the metallic kind in nature, however its compounds are current to a better or lesser level in virtually all rocks, vegetation, and animals. Aluminum is concentrated in the external 16 km (10 miles) of earth’s crust, of which it constitutes around 8 percent through weight; the is surpassed in amount only by oxygen and silicon. The name aluminum is acquired from the Latin indigenous alumen, supplied to define 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 occurs in igneous rocks chiefly as aluminosilicates in feldspars, feldspathoids, and micas; in the soil obtained from them together clay; and also upon more weathering as bauxite and iron-rich laterite. Bauxite, a mixture of character language aluminum oxides, is the principal aluminum ore. Crystalline aluminum oxide (emery, corundum), which wake up in a couple of igneous rocks, is mined together a natural abrasive or in that is finer varieties as rubies and sapphires. Aluminum is existing in various other gemstones, such as topaz, garnet, and also chrysoberyl. That the many other aluminum minerals, alunite and cryolite have some advertisement importance.


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Before 5000 bce people in Mesopotamia were making fine pottery from a clay that consisted mainly of one aluminum compound, and nearly 4,000 years earlier Egyptians and also Babylonians offered aluminum link in assorted chemicals and medicines. Pliny refers to alumen, now recognized as alum, a link of aluminum commonly employed in the old and medieval human being to solve dyes in textiles. In the latter fifty percent of the 18th century, chemistry such together Antoine Lavoisier well-known alumina together the potential resource of a metal.

Crude aluminum was isolated (1825) by Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted by reduce aluminum chloride v potassium amalgam. Brother chemist sir Humphry Davy had prepared (1809) an iron-aluminum alloy by electrolyzing unify alumina (aluminum oxide) and also had currently named the element aluminum; the word later was modified come aluminium in England and some other European countries. German chemist Friedrich Wöhler, utilizing potassium metal as the reduce agent, produced aluminum powder (1827) and small globules of the metal (1845), from which he was able to determine some of its properties.

The brand-new metal was presented to the public (1855) at the Paris Exposition at about the time the it became available (in tiny amounts at great expense) by the sodium reduction the molten aluminum chloride through the Deville process. When electrical power became relatively plentiful and also cheap, almost simultaneously Charles Martin room in the united States and Paul-Louis-Toussaint Héroult in France uncovered (1886) the modern technique of commercially developing aluminum: electrolysis that purified alumina (Al2O3) liquified in molten cryolite (Na3AlF6). Throughout the 1960s aluminum moved into an initial place, front of copper, in people production that nonferrous metals. For more specific information around the mining, refining, and also production of aluminum, see aluminum processing.

Uses and also properties

Aluminum is added in little amounts to specific metals to enhance their properties for certain uses, as in aluminum bronzes and most magnesium-base alloys; or, because that aluminum-base alloys, moderate amounts of various other metals and silicon are added to aluminum. The metal and its alloys are used generally for aircraft construction, building materials, customer durables (refrigerators, wait conditioners, food preparation utensils), electric conductors, and also chemical and food-processing equipment.

Pure aluminum (99.996 percent) is rather soft and weak; commercial aluminum (99 come 99.6 percent pure) with tiny amounts of silicon and iron is hard and also strong. Ductile and highly malleable, aluminum have the right to be drawn into cable or rolled into thin foil. The metal is only around one-third as dense as steel or copper. Despite chemically active, aluminum is nevertheless extremely corrosion-resistant, because in waiting a hard, tough oxide film creates on that is surface.

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

Aluminum is slowly assaulted by many dilute acids and rapidly disappear in focused hydrochloric acid. Concentrated nitric acid, however, deserve to be transport in aluminum tank cars due to the fact that it renders the steel passive. Even an extremely pure aluminum is vigorously struck by alkalies such as sodium and also potassium hydroxide to productivity hydrogen and the aluminate ion. Due to the fact that of its an excellent affinity for oxygen, carefully divided aluminum, if ignited, will burn in carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide v the formation of aluminum oxide and carbide, but, in ~ temperatures as much as red heat, aluminum is inert come sulfur.

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


Ordinarily, aluminum is trivalent. At elevated temperatures, however, a couple of gaseous monovalent and bivalent compounds have actually been prepared (AlCl, Al2O, AlO). In aluminum the configuration of the three external electrons is such that in a few compounds (e.g., crystalline aluminum fluoride and aluminum chloride ) the bare ion, Al3+, created by loss of this electrons, is well-known to occur. The energy required to form the Al3+ ion, however, is really high, and, in the bulk of cases, that is energetically much more favourable for the aluminum atom to type covalent link by method of sp2 hybridization, as boron does. The Al3+ ion can be stabilized through hydration, and also the octahedral ion 3+ wake up both in aqueous solution and also in several salts.

A variety of aluminum compound have essential industrial applications. Alumina, which occurs in nature as corundum, is likewise prepared commercially in huge quantities for usage in the production of aluminum metal and also the to produce of insulators, spark plugs, and various various other products. ~ above heating, alumina establishes a porous structure, which permits it to adsorb water vapour. This type of aluminum oxide, commercially well-known as set off alumina, is supplied for drying gases and details liquids. It likewise serves together a carrier because that catalysts of assorted chemical reactions.

Anodic aluminum oxide (AAO), typically produced via the electrochemical oxidation the aluminum, is a nanostructured aluminum-based material with a really unique structure. AAO includes cylindrical pores that carry out for a variety of uses. The is a thermally and mechanically secure compound while also being optically transparent and an electrical insulator. The pore size and also thickness of AAO can easily be tailored to fit specific applications, consisting of acting as a theme for synthesizing materials into nanotubes and also nanorods.

Another significant compound is aluminum sulfate, a colourless salt acquired by the action of sulfuric acid on hydrated aluminum oxide. The commercial type is a hydrated crystalline solid with the chemical formula Al2(SO4)3. It is used generally in paper manufacture together a binder because that dyes and as a surface ar filler. Aluminum sulfate combines with the sulfates of univalent metals to kind hydrated double sulfates called alums. The alums, double salts the formula MAl(SO4)2 ·12H2O (where M is a singly fee cation such as K+), also contain the Al3+ ion; M deserve to be the cation that sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, ammonium, or thallium, and the aluminum might be changed by a variety of other M3+ ions—e.g., gallium, indium, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron, or cobalt. The most necessary of such salts is aluminum potassium sulfate, likewise known as potassium alum or potash alum. This alums have numerous applications, especially in the manufacturing of medicines, textiles, and paints.

The reaction of gas chlorine v molten aluminum steel produces aluminum chloride; the last is the most typically used catalyst in Friedel-Crafts reactions—i.e., fabricated organic reactions involved in the prepare of a wide variety of compounds, including fragrant ketones and anthroquinone and also its derivatives. Sign language aluminum chloride, frequently known as aluminum chlorohydrate, AlCl3∙H2O, is supplied as a object antiperspirant or human body deodorant, which action by constricting the pores. It is one of several aluminum salts employed by the cosmetics industry.

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Aluminum hydroxide, Al(OH)3, is offered to waterproof fabrics and also to create a number of other aluminum compounds, consisting of salts referred to as aluminates the contain the AlO−2 group. With hydrogen, aluminum develops aluminum hydride, AlH3, a polymeric solid indigenous which are acquired the tetrohydroaluminates (important to reduce agents). Lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4), developed by the reaction the aluminum chloride v lithium hydride, is widely offered in necessary chemistry—e.g., to reduce aldehydes and also ketones to major and secondary alcohols, respectively.