The term "research" stands for purposeful, systematic investigations in order to find out more in all branches of science. The results of research in the field of science and technology form the basis for the industrial society because the innovative products and processes on which it relies for its survival and its further development require new knowledge. Generally speaking one differentiates between basic research and applied research. The latter aims to develop new products on the basis of the results of basic research and is thus often referred to as "development". In the following, the term "research" always means research and development (R&D).
The aluminium industry has undertaken research from the very beginning. It owes its origin to the work of Bayer, Hall and Héroult in particular, who created the Bayer process and fused-salt electrolysis, the basis for the industrial extraction of aluminium around 1890. At the beginning, improvement of these processes was to the fore of the research activities, especially the reduction of the energy requirement. At the beginning of the last century research was aimed at evaluating alloys to increase strength and corrosion resistance. In addition to many other new processes and technologies there then followed the introduction of extrusion and new rolling technologies as well as the development of composite materials.
Today"s research is concentrating on the following (in random order):
- new alloys to improve the properties of the metal even further, for example by increasing strength and corrosion resistance or reducing specific weight; new processes, such as mechanical alloying or laser alloying, are being evaluated
- development of profiles with material-saving cross sections thanks to new alloys " powder metallurgy: manufacture of specific powders
- further development of sintering processes
- environmentally friendly construction of products
- environmental protection: processes for reducing environmental impacts during production, further processing, use and recycling
- further development of the manufacturing process, properties and possible applications of aluminium foam.