Aluminum is the third most widely used metal in the world. The primary source of aluminum is an ore known as bauxite. The mining of bauxite requires only minimal surface exposure and will have complete recovery. By this ideal way, we can preserve nature and agricultural resources in the region.
The first particles were produced by a Danish man called Mr. Oersted in 1825. The first real pieces of the metal aluminum were produced by a German man called Mr. Wöhler in 1827. Frenchman Henri Etienne Sainte - Claire Deville was first to develop the manufacturing process of aluminum reduction AlCl3 by metallic sodium in 1854.
The first step in the commercial production of aluminum is the separation of aluminum oxide from the iron oxide in bauxite. This is accomplished using a technique developed by Karl Joseph Bayer, an Austrian chemist, in 1888. In the Bayer process, bauxite is mixed with caustic soda, or sodium hydroxide, and heated under pressure. The sodium hydroxide dissolves the aluminum oxide, forming sodium aluminate. The iron oxide remains solid and is separated by filtration. Finally, aluminum hydroxide introduced to the liquid sodium aluminate causes aluminum oxide to precipitate, or come out of solution as a solid. These crystals are washed and heated to get rid of the water. The result is pure aluminum oxide, a fine white powder also known as alumina.
Alumina is a handy material in its own right. Its hardness makes it useful as an abrasive and as a component in cutting tools. It can also be used to purify water and to make ceramics and other building materials. But its primary use is to act as a starting point to extract pure aluminum.
In comparison, during the last thousand years when mankind used materials such as bronze, copper, lead, iron, etc., aluminum has only been produced for a very short time.
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