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The Life Cycle Of Aluminium

Rachael

Rachael

Aluminium is an incredible material that is used for a wide variety of purposes and industries, to make everything from aeroplanes to drink cans, and of course aluminium windows. Strong yet lightweight, aluminium has a fascinating production process making it infinitely recyclable.

If you’re considering purchasing aluminium windows and doors from us at ABS, and are interested in the material’s journey from extraction to installation, here is an overview of the life cycle of aluminium to guide you. 

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The journey of aluminium

Bauxite Mining

Aluminium is a material derived from the Earth’s crust, specifically from bauxite mines which are located in countries such as Australia, China and Guinea. The bauxite is extracted from close to the equator and contains anywhere from 15% to 25% aluminium.

There are currently around 29 billion tonnes of bauxite reserves that currently exist. However, it’s estimated that there could be further reserves yet to be discovered that could sustain the extraction of bauxite for up to 340 years.

Though, this of course doesn’t take into account the recycling of aluminium instead of using new materials, which we’ll come onto shortly. 

Alumina Refining

Bauxite is a raw material, and so requires refinement to clean the material and separate out the aluminium, which at this stage is known as alumina. The alumina is then heated and filtered making it transform into a white powder. 

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Aluminium Production

Electricity and carbon are added to the alumina which turns the powder into liquid aluminium. This liquid can then be poured into a mould to create a solid block form. 

The process is carried out over seismic production lines and is an energy-intensive process.

However, efforts are being taken to make the production of aluminium carbon neutral. Renewable energy sources are already being utilised in the production process too.

Aluminium Fabrication

The aluminium is once again heated and pressed into thin shapes known as blanks. 

Fabrication techniques for aluminium include aluminium extruding, aluminium rolling and aluminium casting. These can be used to form aluminium to suit its intended usage purpose. 

Recycling

When aluminium reaches the end of its usage purpose it can then be recycled, requiring just 5% of the energy needed versus producing aluminium from scratch. Furthermore, the favoured properties of aluminium do not diminish when melted down and reformed, with 75% of all aluminium ever harvested still in use today.

So for instance, aluminium windows or doors have a typical life of between 45 and 60 years. This means when the time eventually comes to replace them, instead of ending up in landfill, the aluminium can be repurposed which is far better for the planet. 

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ABS – Aluminium Window & Doors UK

Are you interested in aluminium windows for your home or commercial building, or do you need further information about anything we’ve mentioned above? 

Here at ABS, we’re a leading manufacturer of aluminium windows and doors. Based in Nottinghamshire, we operate across the UK and produce our aluminium windows at our purpose-built factory

If you’re ready to purchase, you can use our build a quote service to place your order, Or, if you’d like to speak to our team please give us a call on 01623 721 172

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