Aluminum plates are widely used in various industries, from aerospace to automotive and even construction. These versatile and lightweight materials offer numerous benefits, from corrosion resistance to durability. Read on to find out what you should know about how aluminum plates are produced.
The Bauxite Mining Process
Aluminum production starts with bauxite, an ore containing aluminum oxide. In bauxite mining, the ore is extracted from the earth’s surface with an open-pit technique. Once mined, bauxite is processed through a series of steps, such as crushing, grinding, and washing, to remove impurities and recover the valuable aluminum oxide.
The Bayer Process
After bauxite extraction, the aluminum oxide is further refined using the Bayer process. Bauxite is mixed with sodium hydroxide to form a slurry. This bauxite-sodium hydroxide mixture is heated under pressure, dissolving aluminum oxide and leaving behind impurities. The dissolved aluminum oxide is then separated from the remaining solids and subjected to precipitation, which yields a pure form of aluminum hydroxide.
The Hall-Héroult Process
The next step involves converting aluminum hydroxide into aluminum. This transformation takes place in the Hall-Héroult process, which involves dissolving the aluminum hydroxide in molten cryolite. An electric current is then passed through the solution, initiating an electrolytic reaction that separates aluminum from oxygen. The pure aluminum is then collected at the bottom of the electrolytic cell and siphoned off for further processing.
Rolling and Finishing
Finally, the aluminum is shaped into plates. The process begins with large aluminum ingots, which are preheated and passed through a series of rolling mills to achieve the desired thickness. The plates may undergo extra treatments to enhance their properties, such as heat treatment to increase strength or surface treatment for better corrosion resistance. Once the aluminum plates meet the required specifications, they are cut to size.
Now that you understand what you should know about how aluminum plates are produced, be sure to select the right material for your applications from a professional aluminum plate distributor like TCI Precision Metals.