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However, it was not until the early nineteenth century that aluminum was identified as an element and isolated as a pure metal.
In 1886, two 22-year-old scientists independently developed a smelting process that made economical mass production of aluminum possible.
Known as the Hall-Heroult process after its American and French inventors, the process is still the primary method of aluminum production today.
Aluminum manufacture is accomplished in two phases: the Bayer process of refining the bauxite ore to obtain aluminum oxide, and the Hall-Heroult process of smelting the aluminum oxide to release pure aluminum.
Smelting of alumina into metallic aluminum takes place in a steel vat called a reduction pot.
The other major ingredient used in the smelting operation is carbon.
Carbon electrodes transmit the electric current through the electrolyte.Around 5000 , Persian potters made their strongest vessels from clay that contained aluminum oxide.Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians used aluminum compounds in fabric dyes, cosmetics, and medicines.Pure, metallic aluminum can be economically produced only from aluminum oxide ore.Metallic aluminum has many properties that make it useful in a wide range of applications.It is strong but easily workable, and it retains its strength under extreme cold without becoming brittle.The surface of aluminum quickly oxidizes to form an invisible barrier to corrosion.Furthermore, aluminum can easily and economically be recycled into new products.Aluminum compounds have proven useful for thousands of years.On average, production of 2 lb (1 kg) of aluminum requires 15 kilowatt-hours (k Wh) of energy.The cost of electricity represents about one-third of the cost of smelting aluminum.