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The History of Aluminum

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Chemistry
Wordcount: 797 words Published: 18th Aug 2017

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Aluminum is the thirteenth element on the periodic element and its in the thirteenth roll (Dynamic.) Aluminum was discovered by Hans Christian Oersted in 1825 in Denmark. Hans Christian Oersted born on August 14, 1777 in Langeland, Denmark. He became interested in Chemistry at age twelve while working at his father’s pharmacy. Not only was Oersted the first to extract aluminum from rocks, but he also discovered electromagnetism (Home.) The “aluminum” word derived from the Latin word “alumen” meaning “alum.”

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Aluminum is the most common metal found in Earth’s crust (Home.) They obtained it from “ores” a surface near the surface of the earth. At that time, aluminum was worth a lot of money and was more valuable than gold (Winter,M.) Aluminum is also found in the Earth’s crust, rocks, clay, soil, and vegetation. Hans-Christian was the first to produce nodules of aluminum by heating potassium amalgam with aluminum (AzoM,.) Hans Christian Oersted produced aluminum by reducing aluminum chloride with a potassium-mercury amalgam (Home.) This experiment was difficult to do because all naturally occurring aluminum exists in a bonded state with other alloys, elements, and substances, making it tricky to discovery and produce (How.)

When aluminum was discovered, the Greek and Romans used it in making medicines and when dyeing fabrics. When it was first discovered, it was worth $1,200 per kilogram in the nineteenth century, that’s more valuable than a bar of gold. That’s $28,383 in today’s money (How.) When aluminum was worth more than gold, it was used for making jewelry and art objects. During this time, aluminum was considered an elite material. Aluminum was like the gold and silver of the 1850’s. It was used to make many necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and silverware used for special guests.

The process that allowed aluminum to be produced at low costs was called electrolysis. This technique ran dissolved aluminum ore through a bath of liquid while it was electrified. When the dissolved aluminum ore molecules were shocked, small gray nuggets were collected. Soon after this process became known, many factories were built for the purpose of isolating and selling aluminum. The United States went from producing a couple of ounces of aluminum per month to producing around fifty pounds of aluminum per day (Kean,S.)

Today, aluminum isn’t worth the same as gold or silver. Because it is now mass produced, the value of aluminum has drastically declined. Today, aluminum is used for basic things like soda cans, foils, kitchen utensils, and airplane parts (Google.) Aluminum foil is produced today by extracting impurities, like oxide, silica, titania, and water, then the aluminum oxide is melted and made into pure aluminum. After that, the pure aluminum is rolled into foil (Aluminum.)

Works Cited

AZoM, W. B. (2013, June 11). Aluminium, The History, Discovery and Development as a Product. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from http://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1530

Dynamic Periodic Table. (2008, November 18). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://www.ptable.com/

Google. (2014, October 23). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.google.com/#q=what is aluminum used for today&*&spf=611

History of Aluminum. (2017, March 09). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from http://www.aluminum.org/aluminum-advantage/history-aluminum

Home. (2009, May 03). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.famousscientists.org/hans-christian-oersted/

How did Hans Christian Oersted discover aluminum? (2013, October 13). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.reference.com/beauty-fashion/did-hans-christian-oersted-discover-aluminum-71fc26839514883c#

Kean, S. (2010, July 30). Aluminum: It Used To Be More Precious Than Gold. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/elements/features/2010/blogging_the_periodic_table/aluminum_it_used_to_be_more_precious_than_gold.html

Winter, M. (2008, July 12). Aluminium: historical information. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://www.webelements.com/aluminium/history.html


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