The metal

The key properties of aluminium are its light weight coupled with high strength, good conductivity of electricity and heat, particularly good corrosion resistance, including resistance to water and chemicals, and excellent recyclability. Aluminium does not pose a risk to health and it occurs naturally as a compound in combination with various other elements. There are even traces of aluminium in baking powder, cheese slices or toothpaste. Photo credit: PREFA / croce & wir Fotostudio

Present in nature and of service to mankind

Aluminium is a universal material with many good properties. As a metal it stands for useful, durable, reliable and safe products and is used in the widest possible range of shapes and functions: in the transport sector, building and construction, the packaging sector, mechanical engineering and plant manufacturing, the design, household and leisure fields, and electrical engineering.

The element aluminium was discovered in 1825 by the Dane Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851), by breaking down aluminous earth. The name ‘aluminium’ is derived from the Latin word for alum, namely alumen. This is an aluminium compound (aluminium potassium sulphate) that was already used in antiquity to tan leather and in medicine as a styptic preparation. Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882) produced pure aluminium in 1827 by reducing aluminium chloride with potassium.

Characteristic values for aluminium

Relative atomic mass 26,9815386
Atomic number 13
Melting point 660,37 °C
Boiling point 2519 °C
Oxidation numbers 3
Density 2,702 g/cm³
Hardness (Mohs) 2,75
Electronegativity 1,61 (Pauling)
Atomic radius 143,2 pm
Electron configuration Ne]3s23p1
Natural occurrence [Al-27 100%

Production of aluminium

Aluminium is the third most common element and the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. However, because of its affinity to combine with other elements it was difficult at first to extract pure aluminium. It was only in 1827 that the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler managed to obtain pure aluminium in powder form.


Processing of aluminium

Processing of aluminium takes place mainly in rolling mills, extrusion plants or shape-casting foundries. Of importance here are the requirements with respect to shape and the subsequent application. Only a small force is required to deform aluminium plastically and virtually every joining technology can be used with the metal. Thanks to the latest technology, aluminium can also be welded and permanently bonded more easily, thus opening up even more fields of application. Photo credit: AMAG


Recycling of aluminium

Recycling of aluminium only requires five per cent of the energy used to produce the same quantity of primary aluminium. This improves the life-cycle assessment of aluminium considerably. Photo credit: Alcoa Europe



Aluminium Pocket Encyclopaedia

Weber’s ‘Aluminium Pocket Encyclopaedia’ contains the most important technical terms used in the aluminium industry and provides interesting information about aluminium, from A for Alloys through to Z for Zeppelin.




The German aluminium recycling industry is one of the frontrunners in Europe, with about 700,000 tonnes a year. In addition, recycling rates are over 90 per cent in some cases and recycling conserves extremely large amounts of energy and resources.



Markets for Aluminum Products

The German aluminum industry is approaching 2016 with cautious optimism. Although the dynamics of the world economy have changed, projections of growth contributions continue to be positive for Europe and the US.