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A Brief History of Aluminium: A Maestro Among Metals

A Brief History of Aluminium: A Maestro Among Metals

Between 2010-2019, India’s aluminium consumption doubled from 2.2 million tons to over 4 million tons. This figure is expected to double again by 2025 as we aim to boost our domestic infrastructure, defence, automotive, & aviation sectors. Aluminium suppliers have key roles to play in addressing these demands in an increasingly urbanized India. 

Without aluminium we can’t have the international-level infrastructure or industrial capabilities. How will aluminium sheet supplies and other aluminium products impact India’s future? To understand this, we must explore the history of this civilization-defining metal. 

The Invention of Aluminium 

The word “aluminium” is derived from the Latin word ‘alumen’ which means ‘bitter salt.’ It was given by an English chemist Humphry Davy. He discovered that the metal could be manufactured by electrolytic reduction from aluminium oxide in 1808. His theory was put to practice by ​Hans Christian Oersted, a chemist from Denmark in 1825. He produced the world’s first aluminium alloy. 

The World’s First Aluminium Suppliers 

Oersted’s work was continued by a German chemist called Friedrich Woehler. Between 1827 & 1845, Woehler experimented continuously with aluminium oxide and created small, solidified balls of molten aluminium. He was unofficially the first aluminium supplier in the world. 

Henri-Etienne Sainte-Claire Deville, a French chemist took it to another level. He improved upon Woehler’s work and produced the world’s first industrial aluminium in 1856. Thanks to his work, the use of aluminium for producing medals, ornaments, and luxury items became the norm during Napoleon III’s reign. 

Mass-Scale Production 

A more cost-effective method of electrolytic aluminium production was developed by French engineer Paul Héroult in 1886. In 1888, the Swiss Metallurgical Society established the world’s first Aluminium Industry Joint Stock Company. 

After this, aluminium production efficiency increased by 10, 20 times in less than 10 years. Since then, various aluminium production companies were launched all across Europe and the USA, the Pittsburgh Reduction Company being the most notable of all. 

The aluminium these companies produced was used in automotive, aviation, shipbuilding, and civil engineering industries. On December 17th, 1903, the Wright brothers flew a controlled aerial vehicle for the first time in history. They used lightweight aluminium parts to develop their engine. 

Wars and World Domination 

About 30 years later, when the era of wars began, aluminium-based aviation played a decisive part. Since World War II, the metal has become an indispensable commodity for all countries. Countries that have access to premium-grade aluminium sheet supplies have better security, technology, and infrastructure.


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