Aluminum is the third most abundant element (after oxygen and silicon), and the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust, making up about 8% by mass. The chief ore of aluminum is bauxite, found mostly in the countries of the tropics. Aluminum has about one-third the density and stiffness of steel. After steel, it is the most frequently used metal in the world and its uses continue to expand.
Aluminum is amongst the most environmentally friendly metals on the planet. On a percentage basis, it is the most recycled of any industrial metal. Of the more than 1 billion tons of aluminum ever produced, roughly 75% of the versatile and lightweight metal is still in use today thanks to recycling.
Aluminum is an extraordinarily versatile material - it is easily machined, cast, drawn and extruded. The range of forms it can take (castings, extrusions and tubes, sheet & plate, foil, powder, forgings, wire, insulation, etc.) and variety of surface finishes available (coatings, anodizing, polishing, etc.) means it lends itself to a wide range of products, many of which we use in our everyday lives.
As well as its versatile form, the metal’s light weight (a third of steel) and numerous material qualities – represented by a wide range of alloys – mean that products have been designed for use in all areas of modern life. It is a good conductor of electricity (one kilogram of aluminum cable can carry twice as much electricity as one kilogram of copper) and most overhead and many underground transmission lines are made of aluminum. It transmits conducted heat and reflects radiant heat, making it an excellent medium from which to produce cooking utensils and foils, radiators and building insulation. Its strength, combined with low density, makes aluminum ideal for packaging applications and transportation. By 2025, it is estimated that the aluminum content in light weight vehicles will approach 35 billion pounds globally, making this market sector the most important market for aluminum.
Aluminum is a unique metal: strong, durable, flexible, impermeable, lightweight, corrosion-resistant and 100% recyclable.