Basic Science, 1.1
Aluminium has the chemical symbol AL, it is a soft, white or silver coloured metal. It is non conductive of electricity, a soft, ductile or malleable metal so is easily formed into various shapes.
Sheet aluminium is formed by rolling the metal until it becomes thinner, much like rolling pastry. This is the standard process for producing aluminium foil, sheet or plate. This article looks at sheet aluminium. Aluminium can be contiguously recycled without any property loss making it a very cost effective and environmentally friendly metal.
Sheet aluminium is designated as being more than 0.2mm but less than 500mm thick. It can be further segmented in to pure or alloy- a mixture of two or more other metals. Pure aluminium needs to be 99% free of any foreign metal. The productio0n of sheet aluminium is a relatively cheap process so is probably the most popular form used in industrial applications.
Because of its light weight it is used extensively in the manufacture of aircraft and is growing in use for motor car bodies. It is also used as a cladding in the construction industry, either as a protective coating against the weather or for decorative purposes on buildings.
It is also found in a wide range of consumer goods, from kitchen hardware, cooking pots, and general household goods.
Aluminium can be decorated or “beautified” by a process called anodising, a process where a coloured dye may be added to the aluminium’s natural oxidisation process.
Because it is a softer metal, aluminium requires special attention when cleaning, many commercial grade cleaners or detergents contain acids that may damage aluminium products causing a “pitting” or orange skin effect on their surface. A good, PH neutral detergent is recommended, certainly avoid those that contain strong alkaline detergents such as potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate or strongly acidic detergents. Many household products designed for cooking today have a interior coating of Teflon, a hard, black, plastic like non stick substance invented by the Dupont company. This coating makes the cleaning process much easier , but again, care should be taken to avoid the use of scourers which may scratch and damage the black coating.