Annual Production

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.

image: aluminium

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.

graph: elements in the earth's crust

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 primary production.
There is an estimated 400 million tonnes of aluminium in use, and much of this will be available for recycling at some point in the future.
Find out more about aluminium recycling

images: aluminium can recycling

graph: production of aluminium

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