WorldWide Drilling Resource® 257 Caroline Street Punxsutawney, PA 15767 800-927-0560 • 814-427-2555 Fax: 814-427-5164 SERVING THE WATER WELL INDUSTRY Serving the Drilling Industry 24 FEBRUARY 2020 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® How Important is Aluminum? Compiled by Bonnie Love, Editor, WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Once more precious than gold or silver, aluminum is the most common metal found in the earth’s crust and the third most common element. However, it’s never found in metallic form in its natural state, it is actually derived from bauxite ore. In addition to providing 99% of metallic aluminum, bauxite also contains minerals gibbsite, boehmite, and diaspore, which is why it is offi- cially considered a rock and not a mineral. Once bauxite is mined, it is chemically refined through the Bayer process to create aluminum oxide (alumina). Alumina is further refined using the Hall-Héroult process into the pure metal form of aluminum using an electrolytic process. Before the discovery of the Bayer and Hall-Héroult processes, aluminum was more expensive than gold or silver. It takes four pounds of bauxite to produce two pounds of alumina, which produces one pound of aluminum. In addition to being 100% recyclable, aluminum’s physical properties make it lightweight, strong, noncorrosive, nonsparking, non- magnetic, nontoxic, and noncombustible. Here are some interesting facts about aluminum: j The Wright brothers used aluminum to build key parts of their biplane’s engine because they couldn’t find a manufacturer to provide an engine which was light enough with the necessary horsepower. j An aluminum can be recycled continuously with no loss of its qualities. In fact, nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced, is still in use today. j Unopened aluminum cans are very strong. Four unopened six-packs of cans can sup- port the weight of a two-ton vehicle. j Aluminum powder was used as the primary fuel for the space shuttle solid rocket boosters, as well as fireworks. j Aluminum reflects 92% of visible light. j Since it is highly conductive but lightweight, aluminum is used to produce the majority of wiring for the country’s electrical transmission networks. j Australia is the world’s leading producer of bauxite, followed by China, Brazil, Guinea, and India. Although the U.S. has small amounts of bauxite ore in Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia, very little bauxite mining is done in the country today. j Aluminum-based chemicals can be found in deodorants and cosmetics. So whether you realize it or not, aluminum is a very important product most of us use every day. In fact, people use more aluminum today than at any point in the history of commercial production. Aluminum is the metal of modern-day life. Photo of bauxite courtesy of the Minerals Education Coalition. MIN