ALUMINIUM – THE SECOND MOST USED METAL IN THE WORLD
WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT IT
In the last days, aluminum is the most discussed metal in the international public space, and may soon become the subject of trade wars among the most advanced economies in the world. Aluminum is the metal that has the strongest economic impact on the United States, while the aluminum industry is contributing more than $ 186 billion dollars or 1% of the country’s GDP (data from the American Aluminum Association). According to economic analysts, aluminum is one of the few raw materials that affect every person in America and nearly 713,000 jobs in America are supported by the industry.
At present, aluminum is the second most widely used metal in the world, starting to be commercially produced in 1886. In 1900, the annual aluminum output was only 1000 tons but in 2016 the annual output already amounted to about 58 million tons.
What makes aluminum so wanted metal?
Strong, lightweight and recyclable, aluminum is a material that is unique to meet the needs and challenges of the 21st century. Aluminum has different applications in almost every industry and production. The strength-to-weight ratio makes it particularly useful as a structural material weighing up to 65% less than the steel. At the same time, the use of aluminum has great potential for increasing the efficient use of energy. For example, lightweight aluminum contributes to increased fuel economy in vehicles – from cars to armored tanks. Indeed, in 2009, the use of aluminum in road vehicles compensates for over 90% of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with aluminum production in North America.
One of the latest innovative applications of aluminum are photovoltaic devices and micro wind turbines that can be integrated directly into the building’s power grid. The most modern photovoltaic system can be integrated directly into the frame of the aluminum façade – ventilated or suspended. The integration of renewable energy devices into the shells of buildings in densely populated urban environments is a critical solution for achieving zero energy status.
Aluminum and green buildings
The future of sustainable construction is unthinkable without aluminum. Aluminum building products are made of alloys resistant to atmospheric influences, corrosion and harmful effects of UV rays. This makes it possible to use aluminum under extreme conditions. Its ability to reflect up to 95% of sunlight contributes to the cooling of “green” buildings and increases energy efficiency.
Indeed, the modern skyscraper can’t be built without aluminum. Lightweight aluminum alloys can easily hold the weight of large glass packets, thus increasing the building’s ability to use natural sunlight.
The unique properties and qualities of aluminum, including numerous aluminum alloys, challenge the imagination of designers, architects and engineers to create new stylized, futuristic and avant-garde products ranging from automotive and space components to buildings with parametric shapes.