December 25, 2016 General Studies

The Romans used various aluminum compounds as astringents; they called them alum. The earliest Romans and Greeks used alum as an acerbic in dyeing. Sir Humphry Davy and other chemists in the early 19th century recognized aluminum in 1825, but Friedrich Wohler had more success and is usually credited with its first isolation, in 1827. H.E. Sainte-Claire Deville first prepared inexpensive pure metal in 1854 and set about perfecting a process for its commercial production. Yet, in 1886 the process by which aluminum is produced today was discovered independently by C.M. Hall, a student at Oberlin College, and Paul Heroult, a French metallurgist. .

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Aluminum is a silvery-white metal with a face centered cubic crystalline structure. It is a member of group IIIa of the periodic table. The symbol is Al; atomic number is 13; atomic weight is 26.98154; it’s state at room temperature, 298 K, is a solid. The electron configuration is [Ne]. 3s2.3p1. The Shell structure for aluminum is: 2.8.3. Aluminum is ductile, malleable, as well as an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. The metal is soft but becomes stronger and harder when alloyed. It is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust; 8% by weight, aluminum does not occur uncombined but is an important component of many minerals such as: clay, bauxite, mica, feldspar, alum, cryolite, and the several forms of aluminum oxide like emery, corundum, sapphire, and ruby. (Aluminum is prepared by the Hall-Heroult process, which consists essentially of the electrolysis of alumina prepared from bauxite and dissolved in fused cryolite. In an electric furnace an iron tank lined with carbon serves as the cathode and large blocks of carbon serve as the anode; the electric curren generates enough heat to keep the cryolite melted. Molten aluminum collects at the bottom of the tank, and oxygen is liberated at the anode. The anode is consumed as it combines with the oxygen to form carbon dioxide.


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