Common Uses of Aluminium
Aluminium is the second-most used metal after steel and the most abundant metal naturally found on the earth. Corrosion resistance, high strength, high malleability, and low-density properties are factor that makes it top metal of choice for manufacturing industry. It is mostly used in the form of an alloy, though the aluminium content may be as high as 99%. Being a non-toxic metal, it has been used widely for packaging of edible items. The below-mentioned physical properties of aluminium make it one of the best choices among all metals.
Density: 2.7 g/cm³ at 20 °C
Brinell Hardness: 245 [-] at 20 °C
Tensile strength: 90 MPa at 20 °C
Melting point: 660 °C
Specific heat capacity: 900 J/(kg·K) at 20 °C
Electrical resistivity: 2.6E-8 Ω·m at 20 °C
The diverse use of aluminium include industrially in engineering, product manufacturing, energy sector (electricity generation, transmission and distribution), household utensils, cables for the oil and gas industry, etc. Though the list of aluminium uses is endless, we will have you a glimpse of few important uses.
Copper has been substituted by aluminium for wiring power grids including overhead high tension lines and local power distribution lines because of its better conductivity to weight ratio than copper. Aluminium is light weight, has good electrical conductivity and is less expensive than copper making it an apt metal for overhead power lines.
Aluminium and its alloys have been preferred and are used widely in construction industry for domestic dwelling or commercial buildings because of durability, lightness, corrosion resistance and cost-effectiveness. Primary uses are window and door frames, panels, roofs, siding, external facades, staircases, railings, air conditioning systems, solar protection, heating systems, furniture and many other things. Aluminium needs lower-maintenance, is less expensive than any other metal and is lighter too. It is also more resistant to scratching, cracking, and marring. Building construction today is not merely erecting building as functionally as possible, but aspects like economic criteria, aesthetic and design, ecological impact are taken into consideration as well. This is where aluminium takes advantage over other metals. Because aluminium is ductile, it can be formed into a number of complex extruded shapes and profiles, making every possible architectural concept to be realised. With its high malleability, high strength to weight ratio, and versatility, aluminium is a valuable material with regard to construction of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. It is also an ideal material because of its durability, design flexibility, and contributions to energy savings, both front-end and back-end.
Aluminium has become integral part of our daily life, so much so that we often fail to notice it. With properties like lightness, strength, durability and recyclability, aluminium has become an ideal choice for modern life. From kitchen appliance to electronics, we can see aluminium in a range of consumer products. Aluminium has excellent heat conductivity, higher than steel or any other metal used in kitchenware; therefore it is widely used in day-to-day utensils we use. With advancing technology, we see aluminium being increasingly used in all kinds of electronic equipment including laptops, smartphones, TVs or tablets. Manufacturers of electronic are opting for aluminium parts because aluminium is lighter than steel, stronger and more reliable than plastic, and absorbs and dissipates heat generated by operating electronic devices better than any other metal. Refrigeration and freezing appliances uses the same advantage of aluminium, which facilitate the cooling process and create highly efficient refrigeration.
Aluminium is lightweight, strong, and corrosion resistant making it a metal of choice for aircraft manufacture. Aluminium is roughly a one-third the weight of steel, so use of aluminium components in an aircraft increase more weight capacity for cargo and passengers. Diminished weight also makes it more fuel efficient. Furthermore, aluminium's high resistance to corrosion ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers. One may probably not be wrong to say aluminium’s unbeatable strength to weight ratio, resistance to corrosion, and ductility are the properties that have made modern aviation and aerospace possible for mankind. Aluminium alone doesn’t have a high tensile strength, but when alloyed it can resist the hardest conditions on earth. Advancing rocket technology today has been possible because of aluminium’s lightweight, strength and ability to withstand the stressors of space travel. Aluminium has been an integral part of the space program since its inception.
The use of aluminium in train dates back to the time of the inception of aluminium industry. Since then, aluminium has been progressively used by the industry because of its light weight, corrosion resistance and overall durability. Iron and steel are heavier though they have been used for centuries for building rail. Replacing iron and steel with aluminium components have advantages comparatively. Aluminium components are easier to handle, light weight and corrosion resistant (that helps with maintenance) without minimizing the strength. In fact, aluminium’s excellent strength-to-weight ratio is one of the main factors that gives train better acceleration, boosts mileage and maximizes payload capacity. Aluminium over the past several decades has been used not only in freight cars, but also in light rail, inner city commuter trains, metros, underground trains as well as in the express passenger trains. Furthermore, traditional copper cables in railway transmissions and installations are being replaced by aluminium alloy cables.
Aluminium is deemed ideal metal for use in the construction of speed boats, fast ferries, large shipping vessels, cruise ships, etc. due to its light weight and ease of fabrication, and corrosion and fatigue resistance. Aluminium makes ships lighter which allow increase size of the ships and boats. Lighter ships or boats can travel faster, carry more loads and travel longer distances with increased stability and better fuel efficiency. Aluminium also gives additional benefit of maintenance cost savings.
Aluminium is progressively being widely used as a metal in the road transport sector due to its lightweight, strength, durability, corrosion resistance, low maintenance and design flexibility. Aluminium is also cost-effective and eco-friendly. Using lightweight aluminium for building vehicles decreases bodyweight which helps boost fuel economy and reduces emissions. Using more aluminium parts makes vehicle lighter resulting in better acceleration and payload capacity of the vehicle without compromising on strength and safety.
With variety of uses of aluminium, no other metal can compare to aluminium. Daily life products, sports equipments, transports, constructions, packaging - the list of aluminium usage is infinite. Though some uses of aluminium may be immediately obvious, others may be inconspicuous. Aluminium is 100% recyclable and uses only 5% of energy required to originally produce it without losing its original properties, the reason it is named "green metal".