Aluminum (Civ3)

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A silvery, gray metal, aluminum has a staggering number of uses and applications. Just a few examples include the fact it never rusts, is lighter than copper (and almost as effective in electricity transmission), and is soft enough to easily mold for nearly any purpose. Though the dominant metal in the Earth’s composition, aluminum wasn’t discovered until 1825, thousands of years after copper and iron. The primary reason for this was the difficulty in extracting the metal from the ore (in modern aluminum, the ore bauxite). Charles Hall, a 22-year-old American, created what was to become the most cost effective method of separating aluminum in 1886. His process involved passing an electrical current through aluminum oxide, resulting in two separate components of pure aluminum and oxygen. This breakthrough had the impact of reducing the cost of the metal from $545 a pound to around $8. Today, a pound of aluminum costs approximately 18 cents.

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