Sunday, September 11, 2005

Alcoa

"Charles Martin Hall, had been experimenting with minerals since he was 12 years old, turning a small woodshed behind his home into a crude laboratory. After graduation, he continued his woodshed experiments. He learned how to make aluminum oxide—alumina—and he fashioned his own carbon crucible. On a cold February day in 1886, he filled the crucible with a cryolite bath containing alumina and passed an electric current through it. The result was a congealed mass which he allowed to cool, then shattered with a hammer. And there were several small pellets of pure aluminum."

"On Thanksgiving Day, 1888, Hall and his first employee, Arthur Vining Davis, produced the first commercial aluminum using Hall’s technology. Soon the ingots were piling up, but where were the customers? Manufacturers hesitated to use an unfamiliar metal. To show the way, Davis began to make a
few fabricated products, starting with an aluminum teakettle. Meanwhile, Hall kept improving his process and developing alloys. He managed to reduce the price of aluminum ingot from $4.86 a pound in 1888 to 78 cents in 1893."

For the story of Alcoa click here.

"Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina, and is active in all major aspects of the industry—technology, mining, refining, smelting, fabricating and recycling. Alcoa’s aluminum products and components are used worldwide in aircraft, automobiles, beverage cans, buildings, sports and recreation."

-- Shrikant Rangnekar

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