Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition

41

ALUMINUM
PROBLEMS

Maintenance of an adequate aluminum sup-
ply requires assured ore supplies as well as con-
tinuation of research on improving processes
for recovering the metal from various raw
materials. The industry is faced with the
problem of acquiring adequate quantities of
low-cost electric power or decreasing the high
energy consumption in producing aluminum.
Dusts and fumes in the effluent gases from
the aluminum reduction cell represent a loss
of alumina, carbon, and fluorides, and systems
that collect and scrub the effluent gases repre-
sent a large capital investment.
Inasmuch as the production of aluminum is
a semibatch process, the producers are faced
with the high costs inherent in such an opera-
tion.
Refractories used in furnaces for melting
scrap or alloying primary aluminum are at-
tacked or penetrated by the molten metal.
The recovery of aluminum from some types
of scrap is quite low. Fines and dusts con-
taining both metallic aluminum metal and alu-
minum oxide are discarded. Some of the phys-

ical properties of aluminum, such as its poor
strength characteristics at elevated tempera-
tures, its softness in comparison to cast iron,
lack of corrosion resistance at high tempera-
tures or in contact with other metals, may be
obstacles to the use of aluminum in special ap-
plications. Typical of these applications are
engine blocks, nuclear reactors, and the skin on
supersonic aircraft.
Facilities which have higher operating costs
than modern plants or are poorly located with
respect to markets are closed down in time of
surplus aluminum supplies. Closing a plant of
this type results in the idling of a large capital
investment and may cause some economic dis-
location.
The high initial plant investment and the
difficulty of obtaining an assured long-term
alumina supply discourage potential aluminum
producers.
Small nonintegrated consumers of ingot or
semifabricated aluminum, numbering the thou-
sands, do not have assured supplies of metal.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition. [Washington D.C.]. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/. Accessed September 21, 2014.