Production of primary aluminum is quite demanding and costly. In its purest state, aluminum is extracted from a clay ore called bauxite. The bauxite ore is purified to yield a fine white powder, aluminum oxide. Aluminum ions are separated from the oxide through electrolysis—a process in which aluminum sinks to the bottom of a melt tank in liquid form and is withdrawn and solidified to become the metal we recognize as aluminum.
Extracting primary aluminum is not only energy-intensive, running up a costly bill with the amount of electricity used, but environmentally detrimental. Large amounts of CO2 are leaked into the atmosphere during the extraction process, making recycled aluminum the perfect alternative for a more energy-efficient source of aluminum.
Aluminum is 100% recyclable. 75% of all the aluminum ever produced is still in use today. Since aluminum maintains all of its physical and mechanical properties, it makes the perfect, greener replacement to primary aluminum.
Secondary aluminum begins by being extracted from various waste streams. Scrap is separated by chemical composition—with purer forms of recycled aluminum maintaining the highest value and aluminum with mixtures of other alloys and other having the lowest. Since aluminum is non-magnetic, contaminants from the scrap are removed using magnets to remove debris. The remaining aluminum is shredded into small pieces, stripped of existing surface finishes and melted down to purify the molten metal. The final product is an aluminum alloy with pure aluminum properties.