Aluminum is a metal in group 13 and period 3 of the periodic table. It has an atomic number of 13. It is a kind of soft silver metal that is ductile and non-magnetic. It has the third most abundant metal in the world.
Extraction of Aluminum
Ores of metal higher in the reactivity series than zinc cannot be obtained in a reduction process using carbon as the metal are more reactive than carbon. So the carbon cannot take the oxygen away from the metal oxide. The method of electrolysis usually obtains metals above zinc in the reactivity series.
Aluminum is usually extracted in the electrolysis of aluminum oxide (Al2O3), which is dissolved in the salt cryolite. The process is quite expensive as it requires a huge amount of electricity. Aluminum, which has to be extracted by electrolysis, is often much more costly than metals like iron which can be obtained by reducing its oxide with carbon. The process of electrolysis can also extract iron, but this is an expensive process that would make the price of iron high.
Uses of Aluminum
Pure aluminum is not a very strong metal; therefore, most of the time, aluminum alloys are used. Aluminum is usually strengthened by adding other elements such as magnesium, copper, or silicon. Aluminum is used in electricity cables, planes, pots, and pans. Its uses depend on its strength after being alloyed and its low density.
Aluminum has a thin and strong layer of aluminum oxide on its surface, so it resists corrosion. This prevents any other elements from reaching the surface of the aluminum and reacting with it.