Essay on Aluminum

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Aluminum

Aluminum is one of a number of soft metals that scientists call "poor" metals. It can be shaped and twisted into any form. It can be rolled into thick plates for armored tanks or into thin foil for chewing gum wrappers. It may be drawn into a wire or made into cans. Aluminum is a generally popular metal because it does not rust and it resists wear from weather and chemicals. (Bowman, 391) Aluminum is an element. Its atomic number is thirteen and its atomic weight is usually twenty-seven. Pure aluminum melts at 660.2ºC and boils at 2500ºC. Its density is 2.7 grams per cube centimeter. Aluminum is never found uncombined in nature. (Bowman, 391) Aluminum is a very useful metal that is light, easy to shape and can be strong.
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(Geary, 185) To make aluminum alloys even lighter, the lightest metal, lithium, is added to aluminum. Products packed in aluminum cost less to ship because the containers weigh less than those made with other metals. The same is true with automobiles the engine block, drive shafts, radiator, wheels and body panels can all be made of aluminum alloys. The car thus weighs less, and, again, the fuel consumption improves. Unfortunately, the price also increases, which is why cars and trucks today are still made of mostly steel. (Advantages to Aluminum) Although pure aluminum is weak, certain aluminum alloys are as strong as steel. Such alloys are used in airplanes, automobiles, guardrails along highways, and in other products that require strength. Aluminum alloys loose some strength at high temperatures. Unlike many other metals, however, they get stronger at extremely low temperatures. Aluminum alloys are widely used in equipment for processing, transporting and storing liquified natural gas, which can have a temperature of -260º F. (Walker, 36) Some metals wear away if exposed to oxygen, water, or various chemicals. When exposed to them a chemical reaction causes most metals to rust or become discolored. When aluminum reacts with oxygen, however, the metal forms an invisible layer of a chemical compound called aluminum oxide. This layer protects aluminum from corrosion by oxygen, water and
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