Segments in this Video

Aluminum in America (05:09)


Aluminum is an important component of airplanes, power lines, city structures, and much more. Aluminum foil is the most popular use for the metal; the Reynolds factory produces three hundred thousand pounds of aluminum foil on a daily basis.

Origins of Aluminum Foil (05:22)

The Reynold's company began by manufacturing lead and tin foils used in the packaging of tobacco products until they began making the more economical aluminum. Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth, but can only be found in deposits of bauxite ore; it is refined through several industrial processes.

Discovery of Aluminum (01:56)

Aluminum was discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808 and was almost twice as expensive as gold; scientists discovered an easier way to cast aluminum in 1886. Scientists Charles Martin Hall and Paul Heroult were working independently of one another and discovered the aluminum chemical, electric extraction process.

Aluminum in Transportation (10:03)

The Airbus A380, the world's largest commercial aircraft, weighs 1.2 million pounds, and sixty-five percent of the plane is made out of aluminum. When making the aluminum pieces for the wings of the A380, the manufacturers use a similar process to that of making aluminum foil. The automotive industry has been revolutionized by lightweight, malleable aluminum.

Baseball and Aluminum (07:27)

Baseball began with batters using wooden bats, and to maintain that tradition, professional baseball players are forbidden from using other types of bats; aluminum bats are used frequently by amateur or aspiring pro players. Due to the more efficient transfer of energy, baseballs hit by aluminum bats fly up to twenty feet farther than wooden bats; these bats are formed from aluminum tubes hardened in a bath of sodium nitrate.

Aluminum Imaging (07:33)

NASA's new telescope, the Giant Magellan, will be placed in an observatory in Chile and will produce images ten times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope; the Magellan is powered by the aluminum coating of its mirrors. The coating can only be applied to the mirrors in a sealed chamber, and the metal must be 99% pure aluminum; aluminum is also used in space shuttles.

Aluminum Shock Wave Absorption (05:24)

Canada's Cymat Technologies produced an innovative form of the metal called aluminum foam which could save lives, in case of terrorist bombing attacks, by coating buildings in the sponge-like substance. The material is made of molten aluminum containing ceramic particles which stabilize the bubbles to keep them from bursting.

Credits: Aluminum (00:35)

Credits: Aluminum

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Aluminum (Modern Marvels)

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This useful metal was once considered more valuable than gold. Watch as aluminum is stretched, pounded, melted and turned into foam. Did you know that aluminum is made out of a powder?

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: FMK160882

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

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