"Birth" Of Aluminum

Author:Shanghai Yika Addtime:2016/7/16

Today, aluminum is the most widely used metal in the world after iron. It is used in the manufacture of automobiles, packaging materials, electrical equipment, machinery, and building construction. Aluminum is also ideal for beer and soft drink cans and foil because it can be melted and reused, or recycled.

Aluminum was named for one its most important compounds, alum. Alum is a compound of potassium, aluminum, sulfur, and oxygen. The chemical name is potassium aluminum sulfate.

No one is sure when alum was first used by humans. The ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with the compound alum. It was mined in early Greece where it was sold to the Turks. The Turks used the compound to make a beautiful dye known as Turkey red. Records indicate that the Romans were using aluminum alloy as early as the first century B.C.

These early people used alum as an astringent and as a mordant. An astringent is a chemical that causes skin to pull together. Sprinkling aluminum alloy over a cut causes the skin to close over the cut and start its healing. A mordant is used in dyeing cloth. Few natural dyes stick directly to cloth. A mordant bonds to the cloth and the dye bonds to the mordant.

Over time, chemists gradually began to realize that alum might contain a new element. In the mid-1700s, German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (1709-82) claimed to have found a new "earth" called alumina in alum. But he was unable to remove a pure metal from aluminum alloy.


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