Sir Humphrey Davy, best known for his development of a miners' safety lamp, first established the existence of "aluminum" (as he called it) about 200 years ago, though isolation of the first sample is attributed to the Danish scientist, H C Oersted, in 1825.
Although it is the third most abundant element on our planet, metallic aluminium is never found in nature. The considerable energy needed to reduce it from its compounds accounts for its late arrival on the scene as a metal of common use. Compounds of aluminium, in contrast, have been in use for thousands of years in dyeing, baking and in medicines.
Production of aluminium by electrolysis of the oxide dates back to about 1890, with world production being about 1000 tonnes by 1900. By 2000 this had grown to some 32 million tonnes, and primary this production now exceeds 35 million tonnes per year.
Aluminium is also a relatively easy material to recycle,
and secondary production from scrap is now a significant source of the
metal. Secondary production requires only 5% of the energy needed for