We use aluminum on a day-to-day basis. To be honest, it is pretty hard to even imagine our daily lives without this element. So, this element is nothing short of a wonder. In this article on aluminum facts, we will learn about the element in details. When we say details, we mean the history of aluminum discovery, its properties, its physical appearance and more. So, without further ado, let us begin.
To start with, let us get some quick information about the metal…
|Element Name||Aluminum or Aluminium|
|Element Family||Basic Metal|
|Atomic Weight||26.98154 g/mol|
|Melting Point||933.57 K or 660.32°C|
|Boiling Point||2740.00 K or 2466.85°C|
|Density at 20°C||2.702 g/cm3|
|Number of Electrons||13|
|Number of Protons||13|
|Number of Neutrons (as found in most abundant isotope)||14|
|Electronic Configuration||1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p1|
|Known Isotopes||24 isotopes known so far and 4 isomers|
|Element Structure||Face-Centered Cubic|
|Atomic Radius||125 pm|
Known Isotopes of Aluminum
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half Life (HL)|
|26Al||Radioactive but Naturally Occurring|
|27Al||Stable and Naturally Occurring|
Abundance: > 99.9%
|Does not decay and hence, no HL|
* means that the data has been derived partly from systematic trends and is not purely experimental data.
Isomers of Aluminum
|Isomers||Type and Abundance||HL|
Now that we have our tables in place, let us start with the facts:
Aluminum Facts: 1-5 | History and Discovery
1. Aluminum has always been in use since ancient times. The only thing – it was never used in pure elemental form during those days. The compound of aluminum that was in use was known as alum.
2. Alum is nothing but potassium aluminum sulfate which had a number of applications such as stopping bleeding, tanning, dyeing etc.
3. It was only in 1750s that a stunning discovery was made by Andreas Marggraf – a chemist from Germany. He noticed that when alum was dropped into an alkaline solution, a new substance precipitated.
4. That was as far as Marggraf could go but he was the one who had previously isolated zinc. Anyway, the new substance that Marggraf managed to precipitate was named as alumina by Louis de Morveau by a French chemist. Today we know that alumina is basically aluminum oxide with a chemical formula of Al2O3.
5. Unfortunately, just like Marggraf, Morveau was also unable to isolate aluminum but he strongly believed that what Marggraf had found had a metallic element hidden in it.
Aluminum Facts: 6-10 | History and Discovery
6. Then came Humphry Davy – a chemist from England who used an electric arc for decomposing alumina and managed to get a metal. This happened in 1807 or in 1808. Davy first named the metal as alumium and only later named it as aluminum.
7. Hold on! Davy wasn’t the person who isolated aluminum. He actually managed to get an alloy of iron and aluminum. Isolation of aluminum didn’t take place until 1825.
8. The feat of isolating aluminum was achieved in Copenhagen, Denmark by Hans Christian Ørsted. He used potassium-mercury amalgam for reducing aluminum chloride and what was left behind was aluminum mixed with mercury.
9. In order to remove mercury, Ørsted heated the end result and mercury was removed, leaving behind pure aluminum that he referred to as a lump of metal that closely resembled tin in both luster and color.
10. Unfortunately, Ørsted was not credited with discovery of aluminum. This is because of Friedrich Wöhler – a German chemist. Wöhler tried reproducing Ørsted’s experiment only to get potassium metal. So, he took two more years to refine the process of aluminum extraction.