Aluminum is a sustainable metal that holds a key role in the modern world infrastructure. This unique metal has amazing chemical properties, making it an ideal pick as a reusable metal. Numerous industries are already using aluminum as a recyclable metal to help lower down the carbon footprint. Let’s read on to know more on why using aluminum will help the environment by many folds.
Amazing Chemical Properties
Extracted from bauxite, Aluminum is a soft metal that has tons of applications because of its unique properties, structure, and reusability. Here are the chemical properties that make Aluminum stand out from the rest of metals.
- Aluminum is a low-weight metal with a density much lower than steel.
- Durable metal with strength comparable to steel, when mixed with some substances.
- The metal is malleable; meaning that the aluminum can be easily molded into any shape without breaking the material apart.
- A layer of aluminum oxide develops over the surface that prevents the metal from corrosion.
These properties make aluminum a suitable choice for industries like packaging, beverages, and medicine. Recently, aluminum is being advocated to be used as a plastic alternative that helps curb down carbon emissions.
Aluminum vs. Plastic
These two materials are the most used packaging materials in the consumer industry. While production of both, aluminum and plastic, emit harmful gases, aluminum is a better option to choose in terms of recycling. Take the example of a plastic bottle. The cap, bottle, and label are all made of various types of plastics that have to be sorted before recycling, Whereas, aluminum cans with the same beverage are easy to sort and recycle. Since the discovery of plastics, more than 8 billion tons have been produced out of which 75% ends in filling up landfills. Various health organizations like the United Nations have been raising concerns over the use of plastics and have raised awareness of the disastrous effects it has on our ecosystem and wellbeing. There might be some benefits of plastic over aluminum. Yet, aluminum is a more sustainable material that can be an environmentally friendly solution.
Aluminum is the second most abundant metal present in the earth’s crust. Surprisingly, aluminum is also the most sustainable material in the packaging industry and the only material that benefits the industry by paying off its recycling cost, even when compared to glass and plastic. Nowadays, leading companies like Ford and Apple are recycling their aluminum to save energy and cut down on costs.
More industries are recognizing the benefits of aluminum as a cost-effective material that is infinitely recyclable. Industry experts are now more focused and are using tactics such as post-consumer recycling to increase the overall aluminum recycling count.
An Eco-Friendly Alternative
Apart from its reusability, aluminum is also an environment-friendly alternative for many products we use today. Companies and businesses are coming up with novel ways to reduce the amount of waste material that ends up in landfills. For instance, we all know how many plastic straws end up in the oceans, ultimately disrupting marine life. A healthy alternative can be a reusable straw made out of a natural metal like aluminum. Some startups claim to provide aluminum bottled water as an alternative to plastic. The construction industry has also been using aluminum due to its high durability and low maintenance abilities. Statistics from studies reveal that recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves up to 9 tons of carbon emissions and produces 95% fewer greenhouse gases.
More than 90% of energy wasted on producing aluminum from bauxite is being saved by recycling it. Food canning and cookware industries heavily rely on recycled aluminum as the process is more energy-efficient. To make it simple, recycling your favorite soda can ends up saving enough energy for a TV to run for three hours without a hitch. There are several benefits of Aluminium that most industries are focused on utilizing.
The Future of Construction
Aluminum has no doubt influenced the construction industry due to its strength, low weight, and durability; it holds a key position in sustainable housing. When compared to steel, aluminum is rust-free and requires minimum maintenance. The empire state building in America replaced its original steel windows with aluminum to avoid rust, frosting, and air leakage. High-strength aluminum is widely used in constructing frame designs that let in natural light in airports and high-rise buildings. Newer building systems are being devised that use aluminum for better sustainability, structural stability, and functionality.
Aviation and Aluminum
The strength, high durability, and rust-free properties make aluminum the first choice for the aviation industry. The aerospace industry also reaps the benefits of aluminum alloys that can easily bear extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations. Tech companies have now been revising their manufacturing processes to promote the use of aluminum over plastic and steel. Electronic goods that need cooling now use aluminum-based radiators to remove the heat produced and increase their efficiency.
Shipping containers used to transport cargo are made of steel that is prone to corrosion, damage, and leakage. On the contrary, aluminum’s properties can significantly reduce the extra weight on cargo ships, allowing more cargo to be carried, thus saving time, fuel, and emissions. Yachts and super boats are all made of aluminum as their weight to strength ratio surpasses numerous metals. High-speed trains are now using more aluminum in their components as the material saves fuel and requires minimum maintenance. The automobile industry is also making use of aluminum to build fuel-efficient cars, have minimal environmental impacts, and are durable.
Aluminum is a material that surpasses many others in terms of usability, cost-effectiveness, and strength. While the use of plastic remains the same, the authorities have to implement laws that ensure the utilization of eco-friendly ways of production and encourage people to help in recycling materials that only end up in a landfill. Saving our environment requires necessary steps to execute as we have already disrupted the ozone layer, destroyed billions of trees in the name of urbanization, and deteriorated the quality of marine life without even recognizing the dealt damage.