Aluminium is a revolutionary product in industry that doesn’t get the respect it deserves – and its use is increasing year on year. In the US in 2022, 5.1 million metric tons of aluminium was used – up about 25 per cent on the previous year.
What makes aluminium so versatile?
A key reason why aluminium has grown in popularity as a fundamental component in many industrial applications is because it is so lightweight. This makes it ideal for when weight and energy consumption is an issues, such as in transport. Because the weight of a vehicle can consume up to 70 per cent of the fuel, by reducing that weight even by 10 per cent, a manufacturer can improve fuel efficiency by up to 8 per cent.
Equally, aluminium can also hold weight – which is beneficial for heavier vehicles such as trucks which are carrying heavy loads. By manufacturing the trucks using aluminium, overall vehicle weight is minimised to build towards a greater energy efficiency even when fully loaded.
A sustainable material that can be recycled many times over
With the focus of governments worldwide on sustainability and promoting net zero initiatives, aluminium has proved itself to be one of the most sustainable metals available. It can be recycled repeatedly with negligible impact on its integrity.
There is no limit to how many times the metal can be recycled – so for forward thinking industrialists and manufacturers who want to ensure that they are future proofing the environment by concentrating on the use of more sustainable construction components, aluminium is a dream product. Strong, versatile, energy efficient.
The recycling of aluminium is achieved through grassroots partnerships between the metal recycling industries and local councils, to ensure that during any demolition or other waste projects, the aluminium is stripped out and sent to recycling plants. It is currently estimated that 75 per cent of all aluminium ever created is still in active circulation in products, buildings and vehicles globally.
Great energy efficiency
Studies have highlighted the energy efficiency of recycling aluminium and reducing carbon emissions. Recycling one tonne of aluminium saves up to nine tonnes of Co2 emissions that would otherwise have been released into the environment in the production of new aluminium.
Imagine a fizzy drinks can, picked off a shelf, consumed, and thrown into the recycling bin. Within two months that can will have been recycled, remanufactured, refilled and replaced on the shelf to be resold. And considering that there is no limit to the amount of times that can be recycled, the circle can continue ad infinitum with minimal effect on the environment.
Furthering the cause of aluminium
Whether you are a small artisanal based business that looks to buy aluminium online, a regional property developer creating low cost housing solutions for local communities, or a global manufacturer working on multimillion dollar aerospace projects, millions of tonnes is being processed every day.
As well as its recyclability, the metal is able to reflect up to 90 per cent of solar energy, which is why it is used extensively in siding and roofing, as well as solar energy panels. Add to this the fact that it is resistant to rust and corrosion, and has soundproofing and insulation properties, as a material it is going to be in great demand in the coming decades.
It will play a part not just in the end products in the construction and transportation, but right at the beginning of the process too, integrating the material into the very machinery which makes the components in the first place. It is fair to say that a world without aluminium would look like a completely different place.