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Die Aluminium-Industrie

Nature volume 68, page 293 (30 July 1903) | Download Citation



THIS very interesting monograph upon the aluminium industry commences with a short historical introduction, in which we learn that Davy, so far back as 1808, after he had discovered sodium and potassium, endeavoured to prepare aluminium by electrolysing alumina. In this he was not successful, and it fell to the lot of Wöhler in 1827 first to prepare the metal by purely chemical methods. Bunsen, however, was able in 1854 to obtain it by electrolysing its chloride. In a table on p. 5 the variation in the price of the metal is traced since 1854, when it was merely a chemical curiosity. Its value in that year was 120l per kilo, and even in 1889 it cost 2l; but with the improvements of the electrical methods, the price rapidly dropped, until in 1901 it ranged from 2s. to 2S. 6d. per kilo. Following the historical portion of the work, a very full account of the physical and chemical properties of the metal is given. It is not until we reach p. 22 that the present methods of obtaining the metal are gone into, but here the thoroughness of the treatment leaves nothing to be desired. In the first place a careful account of the preparation of the outgoing materials used in the manufacture is given. This part of the work is of very considerable value. Everyone is aware that bauxite and cryolite are the substances used for preparing aluminium, and those who have studied the subject know that these substances cannot, as a rule, be employed without being first purified. In this book the methods of purification are described in detail, and methods of analysis are also set forth. Page 54 is headed “carbon electrodes”; these are employed both for the anode and kathode, in consequence of impurities introduced into the bath when other electrodes are used. The author gives details of the manufacture of these carbon electrodes—ten pages are devoted to this. Some useful diagrams illustrating the way in which the electrodes become corroded during the electrolysis are also given.

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