Thursday, November 18, 2010
Aluminum: From Riches to Rags
Of course, as time went on (and more discoveries of deposits)- it was then as valuable as silver, then...not a long time after that, as valuable as...aluminum.
And though Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth crust, you'll never find it a a pure element-(the image is not a chunk of natural aluminum, rather it is an alloyed by-product from a smelting plant)- the metal is too reactive, but it is found in bauxite and hundreds of other minerals and ores- which are mined & smelted.
What makes aluminum interesting is that when exposed to air it forms a thin surface layer of aluminum oxide (you know- the white stuff that forms when you wash your aluminum pots)...
The forming of that layer made aluminum impossible to weld (until later alloys allowed for that)....but that didn't stop people from riveting aluminum:
You'll notice Warren McArthur's works from the 40's & 50's have those lovely decorative rings- which held the tubes together without having to worry about welding:
I could go on about this now lowly metal.....but I won't.
Respect aluminum- it's not as valuable as it once was....but it's a worker. Try living without it.