Aluminium encyclopaedia


1000 BC: alum, an aluminium compound, in use as a dye in Egypt and Babylon.

1st century AD: Plinius mentions "alumen" (alum).

1807: Davy discovers aluminium as a component of an iron alloy and proposes the name "aluminium".

1821: Bauxite is discovered in southern France and named after the place where it was found, Les Baux near Arles.

1825: Oersted produces pure aluminium for the first time by the reduction of aluminium chloride using potassium amalgam.

1827: Wöhler manages to reduce 30 g of anhydrous aluminium chloride with pure potassium to form a grey powder which he says appears to consist of a myriad of small metal spangles when observed more closely in sunlight. By treating the powder with a steel polisher in an agate mortar he obtains large metal flakes, which he uses to determine the main chemical properties of aluminium and its tin-white metallic lustre.

1854: Sainte-Claire Deville invents a chemical process for the industrial extraction. About 200 tonnes of aluminium are produced in this way up until 1890.

1855: The first block of aluminium produced by Deville is exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle under the heading "silver from clay".

1857/58: Early applications of aluminium in toys, optics (opera glasses, spectacles), defence technology (breastplates and helmets), jewellery (watch chains) and the household (cutlery).

1864: Wristwatch with cast aluminium casing.

1866: Werner von Siemens invents the dynamo and thus creates the basis for the large-scale production of electric current and thus lays the foundation for the economic production of aluminium on an industrial scale.

1876: First aluminium power line built by W. L. E. Curley.
1885/87: The Cowles brothers reduce aluminium oxide in an electric furnace in the presence of iron and copper and obtain aluminium"copper and aluminium"iron alloys.

1886 is the year of birth of the modern aluminium industry: independently of each other, Hall and Héroult file patents for fused-salt electrolysis.

1887 and 1892: Bayer patents his Bayer process for the extraction of aluminium oxide from bauxite.

1888: Aluminium industries are established in Switzerland and the USA and at the same time the first aluminium smelters using the Bayer-Hall-Héroult process go into operation.

1889: Household cookware made by casting aluminium.

1891/92: In shipbuilding, aluminium (unalloyed aluminium) used for first time for a yacht and a launch by Escher Wyss, Zürich. Carl Berg, Lüdenscheid, starts fabricating cookware from aluminium sheet.

1892: Start of building of first aluminium airship in Eveking, Germany, using design of David Schwarz (made of unalloyed aluminium).

1893: Statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus in London is cast; it is still in good condition even after more than 100 years. The façade of a 16-storey steel skeleton building in Chicago is made from aluminium (aluminium containing 10 per cent copper).

1894/95: A bicycle frame is made from aluminium for the first time (USA).

1895: First large-scale overhead power line using cables made from unalloyed aluminium in the USA. It is still in use today. In the same year, Zeppelin introduces the first dirigible aircraft with several compartments arranged one behind the other, with a slim rigid skeleton made of aluminium.

1896: Laying of first aluminium roofing sheet at San Gioacchino"s church in Rome; it is still in good condition today.

1897: Germany"s first aluminium smelter goes into operation at Badisch-Rheinfelden.

1898: Pollack applies for first patent for anodisation (British Pat. 937/1898). In Germany, the first aluminium motor housing is cast.

1899: Mach develops the aluminium"magnesium alloy Magnalium.

1899: Propellers made from aluminium for first Zeppelin airship.

1900: Start of general manufacture of cast parts for motor vehicles.

1901: Aluminium chassis used in car-making.

1902/04: Foil production begins using the pack-rolling process: Alfred Gautschi in Switzerland and Stanniol- und Metallkapselfabrik in Eppstein in Taunus, Germany.

1903: In engine manufacturing, first preliminary tests with aluminium pistons.

1905: Start of commercial production of cast aluminium car engines.

1905: The Englishman A.G. Betts produces refined aluminium using three-layer electrolysis.

1906: The German A. Wilm discovers an increase in strength due to heat treatment and uses it to develop the age-hardenable alloy Duralumin. Aluminium is now a versatile constructional material.

1908: First aluminium fermenters for breweries produced in Switzerland.

1909: First aluminium beer-barrel produced in Switzerland. In electrical engineering, first cable with aluminium conductors.

1910: First aluminium winding for a lifting magnet (Lauchhammer). In the packaging sector, aluminium closure caps produced. In Switzerland, first aluminium storage containers for beer produced. At Vickers works in Birmingham, ten tonnes of Duralumin produced for the airship Mayflower.

1910/11: First patent applications for foil and strip rolling. In same year, first steel-cored overhead cables built (USA).

1911: Chocolate packed in aluminium foil for the first time.

1913: First aluminium tubes produced.

1916: In Germany, Hugo Junkers builds first all-aluminium aircraft.

1919: Junkers makes first all-aluminium commercial aircraft, the F 13.

1919/20: Development of aluminium food can.

1920: Start of large-scale use of aluminium tubes.

1923: Bengough and Stuart establish basis for the industrial application of anodising. Aluminium starting to be used in large quantities in manufacture of railway vehicles. First German aluminium bus built.

1928: First American aluminium tank wagon built.

1931: Aluminium milk-bottle caps introduced.

1933: First applications of aluminium in bridge building in the USA.

1939: First large-scale use of aluminium in commercial shipbuilding: 14 tonnes of aluminium used in superstructure of MS Fernplant (Norway).

1930s: Aluminium becomes established in road vehicles. Extrusion introduced.

1945/48: Ban on production of primary aluminium in Germany.

1947/53: Self-supporting all-aluminium body developed and used in Dyna Panhard in France.

1948: A 153-metre long all-aluminium road bridge built in Canada (civil engineering).

In 1950s: Aluminium becomes an important material in shipbuilding. Aluminium production increases sharply.

1950: First all-aluminium articulated train, the TALGO, designed in Spain and built in the USA.

1953: First two all-aluminium articulated trains are built in Germany. Large-scale use of aluminium in German shipbuilding follows (17 tonnes in Rhine steamer Goethe and some 30 tonnes in ocean-going vessel MS Schwabenstein).

1954: First aerosol cans made from aluminium.

1959: German Railways puts trains with an all-aluminium, self-supporting structure into service on the Trans-Europ-Express (TEE) network.

1972: The American space probe Pioneer 10 carries an aluminium plate with an inscription on its journey to Venus.

1978: Aluminium introduced onto London Metal Exchange (LME), where from now on the market price determines the price of aluminium.

1994: Manufacture of first aluminium Spaceframe in car-making.