Aluminium in electrical engineering and electronics

Aluminium can be found as a material in practically all areas of electrical engineering and electronics. Besides its electrical conductivity, it is mainly the wide range of methods of manufacture that offer numerous benefits. Aluminium is used as an electrical conductor, a structural element and as a conductor of heat.

Energy for rail transport

Aluminium’s conductivity, which is three and a half times greater than that of conventional systems for conducting electricity, coupled with extremely high abrasion resistance is the basis for a particularly reliable supply of electricity to underground and suburban railways. This only requires a strip of stainless steel a few millimetres thick, which is co-extruded with an aluminium profile and therefore metallically bonded; given the growth in investments in rail transport worldwide, this is clearly a growth market.

Excellent conductivity with low weight

Aluminium’s light weight provides economic benefits in the construction of power supply lines and for transmission lines. Power lines are distinctly lighter as a result, so that pylons can be positioned much further apart. This brings with it economic benefits, especially in inaccessible areas. This is because the erection of pylons in such areas can only be achieved by large-scale deployment of personnel and materials.

Further advantages of aluminium are the resultant resistance to weathering of the pylons: additional protective measures, such as coats of paint or maintenance work later, are superfluous. Photo credit: fotolia/Marcus Hofmann

Efficiency for transformers and electromagnets

Aluminium windings with the widest possible range of cross sections can be used to create the inductance needed in transformers and electromagnets. Both lacquer-insulated aluminium wire and rolled aluminium strip are used. The advantage of aluminium strip is a significantly greater winding volume compared with conventional wire windings.

A ceramic insulating layer can be applied to aluminium using anodising. One can then forego additional insulation, such as is necessary, for example, with copper coils. The windings (e.g. of electromagnets) are closer together and thus result in a higher field density.

Aluminium keeps it cool