Silver the new green

Environment considerations are becoming and will continue to become of higher priority as our planet’s population increases, our cities become more densely populated and we require more resources to meet our needs.

When it comes to sustainable construction, bamboo often tops the list as it is fast growing and versatile. Not far behind is Aluminium. Also highly versatile, its lightweight and durable properties make it an excellent choice. Relatively new on the construction front, its application took off in the 1950s. The first well-known application was when the dome of San Gioacchino’s church in Rome was clad in aluminium sheeting. The stunning Art Deco-inspired Empire State Building in New York was the first building to use anodised aluminium components back in 1931.

Here are some important factors that are making aluminium the environmental product of choice and making silver the new green.

aluminium

Abundance 

Aluminium is the most common metal element in the earth’s crust accounting for seven percent of its mineral makeup.  It is naturally found as bauxite and is easily mined from surface mines in Australia, Brazil, Suriname, Jamaica and other parts of the world, where most of it is processed into alumina. The current estimates of reserves of aluminium using today’s consumption rate are estimated to be several hundreds of years of global reserves.

 

recycled

Recycled 

Aluminium has been recycled since it was first commercially produced and today recycled aluminium accounts for one-third of global consumption worldwide. Recycling is an essential part of the aluminium industry and makes good sense economically, technically and ecologically. It only takes 5% of the energy originally used to extract and process aluminium from more traditional geologic sources thereby avoiding corresponding emissions, including greenhouse gases. All aluminium products retain value, even at the end of their useful life, which guarantees that it is possible to continue to create value by recycling them into new products. Up to 98% of architectural aluminium is recycled in Europe and with around 75% of all aluminium ever produced still in use, it is a great resource for future generations.

aluminium done

Enduring 

Aluminium forms a natural film on its surface upon exposure to oxygen. This film is called aluminium oxide, and it protects the surface of the aluminium from corrosion. If this film is scratched or damaged, it will instantly reform.

Aluminium building products are made from alloys that are weatherproof, corrosion-resistant and immune to the harmful effects of UV rays, ensuring optimal performance over a very long period of time. In 1898, the dome of San Gioacchino’s Church in Rome was clad in aluminium sheets, which are still in pristine condition today, more than 100 years later.

Aluminium has a unique combination of properties that can be amplified and utilised through alloying. By alloying aluminium with magnesium, manufacturers are able to create a metal that is as strong as steel at only one third of the weight. 

aluminium in workshop

Applications 

Aluminium’s unique combination of strength and corrosion resistance makes it a particularly durable material. This makes it very versatile for construction. Monkey Toe have successfully replaced heavy structural steel platforms with their light-weight aluminium solution that rivals its heavy counterparts.

Aluminium is not adversely affected by steam sterilising and cleaning and will not harbour bacteria or insects. This makes it particularly useful in the food industry or similar manufacturing situations where sterilisation is important.

Aluminium is non-magnetic and non-sparking. These properties make it a suitable material for applications where explosive vapour mixtures are present. It also does not burn, and is therefore classified as a non-combustible construction material. Aluminium alloys will nevertheless melt at around 650°C, but without releasing harmful gases. Industrial roofs and external walls are increasingly being made of thin aluminium cladding panels, intended to melt during a major fire, allowing heat and smoke to escape and thereby minimising damage.

The aluminium profiles used by Monkey Toe are produced through an extrusion process which consists of pushing a hot cylindrical billet of aluminium through a shaped die. This allows us to produce a range of complex shapes with metal exactly where it is needed.

aluminium smelters 90295

Global Improvements 

The aluminium industry has established a global monitoring approach to energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction. Following an 86% reduction in its perfluorocarbon (PFC) emissions per tonne of primary aluminium produced between 1990 and 2006, it is aiming for a 50% reduction in PFC emissions by 2020 compared to 2006.

Following an 8% reduction in global smelter electrical energy usage per tonne of aluminium produced between 1990 and 2006, the goal is for a further 5% reduction by 2020 compared to 2006, and a 10% reduction in refinery energy usage by the industry as a whole by 2020.

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