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How to get aluminum?

Oksana Vasilyeva
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How to get aluminum?

Relatively recently (a little more than a century ago), aluminum was considered one of the most expensive metals. And this was due not to small stocks of raw materials, but to the complex process of production of this metal. Today, aluminum has become one of the cheapest metals thanks to both large raw materials reserves and improved production. It occupies a leading position in the production of non-ferrous metals and is very widely used in many industrial sectors both in pure form and as alloys. How to get aluminum today? Let's see.

What is aluminum made of?

Depending on the raw materials used to produce this metal, aluminum is divided into primary and secondary.

For the production of primary aluminum using mineral ores, which contain aluminum oxide: bauxite, nepheline, alunite.

Bauxite is the most enriched aluminum oxide ore - aluminum oxide contains more than 50%. Up to 30% oxide contains nepheline.And their smallest content (up to 20%) is in alunites.

Secondary aluminum as well as aluminum alloys are produced by recycling aluminum waste and scrap. To produce it, aluminum chips, foil and wire are melted down, metal sheets and pipes are cut.

How is primary aluminum produced?

Primary aluminum is produced by a method called "electrolysis of alumina melt in cryolite". Ore aluminum production is a multi-stage technological process, which includes the production of intermediate raw materials: alumina - cryolite and fluoride salts - coal products - electrolytic aluminum.

The main links of this technological chain are alumina and electrolytic aluminum. The main production device is an electrolyzer or an aluminum bath. The density of aluminum is higher than that of cryolite. Therefore, the electrolysis process, it is separated from the cryolite-alumina melt. Separated, the metal settles to the bottom of the bath, from where it is collected by vacuum buckets. Then the collected metal is purified by the method of chlorination and ingots are cast from it.

How is aluminum made from scrap?

Secondary aluminum is produced by smelting. To do this, the waste is collected and sorted, and then purified by cold processing. In the process of processing, all impurities (metals and non-metals) are removed from the waste, and then the scrap is melted in furnaces of fuel or electric smelting. The finished product is poured into special casting pigs.

Since the production of this metal requires a lot of energy, aluminum plants are built near hydroelectric power stations, which provide the cheapest electricity. For the same reason, the enterprises producing alumina are located near the deposits of aluminum ores.

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