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Recycled Aluminium vs. Pure Aluminium
Aluminium is the most abundant metal on earth. The physical and mechanical properties of Aluminium make it the ideal choice for parts that can be used in almost any industry. Aluminium is corrosion resistant, durable, and has a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Benefits of choosing Aluminium for your part
When considering the type of metal for an application, many companies put Aluminium at the top of their list. With its unique mechanical and physical properties, Aluminium offers design
With all the benefits Aluminium offers, it may come as a surprise that a majority of Aluminium is actually mixed with other materials such as magnesium, iron, and copper. That's because the use of pure Aluminium, or primary Aluminium, in casting is quite costly due to the high amount of energy used during extraction. Recycled Aluminium, or secondary Aluminium, is much more cost-effective and readily available—not to mention, good for the Earth.
Discover additional benefits of Aluminium die casting metals in our Knowledge Centre's Material Information section.
How do you extract pure Aluminium?
150 years ago, Aluminium was more expensive than gold—not because of how rare it was, but how expensive it was, and still is, to extract. Production of primary Aluminium is quite demanding and costly.
In its purest state, Aluminium is extracted from a clay ore called bauxite. The bauxite ore is purified to yield a fine white powder, Aluminium oxide. Aluminium ions are separated from the oxide through electrolysis—a process in which Aluminium sinks to the bottom of a melt tank in liquid form and is withdrawn and solidified to become the metal we recognize as Aluminium.
Extracting primary Aluminium 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 Aluminium the perfect alternative for a more energy-efficient source of Aluminium.
Aluminium is 100% recyclable. And 75% of all the Aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Since Aluminium maintains all of its physical and mechanical properties, it makes the perfect, greener replacement to primary Aluminium.
Secondary Aluminium begins by being extracted from various waste streams. Scrap is separated by chemical composition—with purer forms of recycled Aluminium maintaining the highest value and Aluminium with mixtures of other alloys and other having the lowest. Since Aluminium is non-magnetic, contaminants from the scrap are removed using magnets to remove debris. The remaining Aluminium is shredded into small pieces, stripped of existing surface finishes and melted down to purify the molten metal. The final product is an Aluminium alloy with pure Aluminium properties.
Industrial scrap, or discarded metal from manufacturers and other foundries, is a key source for providing suppliers with material for recycling. At Dynacast, we send off all scrap that was produced as a by-product of our operations to be recycled and used for future projects. The closed-loop cycle prevents waste from going to landfills.
Consumer products make up the remaining scrap that gets recycled. Items like Aluminium window frames are sorted, shredded, cleaned and melted before removing all by-products. At this point, other alloys can be added to the Aluminium, creating an almost-exact recreation of primary Aluminium.
Savings from recycled Aluminium
The amount of energy used to produce Aluminium is the ultimate differentiator when it comes to cost. Primary Aluminium extraction uses a great deal of energy, consisting mainly of electricity, natural gas and liquified petroleum gas consumption. The aerospace industry is most commonly known for using primary Aluminium due to strict regulations and quality measures. Using secondary Aluminium is a more energy-efficient choice than extracting pure Aluminium since secondary Aluminium casting can produce a large amount of usable material with less effort. To put it in perspective, recycled Aluminium uses approximately 90% less energy than mining for pure Aluminium.
Most of the energy consumption in Aluminium die casting is used to heat and remelt the metal during fabrication. For this reason, Dynacast is able to save more time, energy, and money by remelting in-house. And since a majority of products can be cast out of secondary Aluminium, while still maintaining like properties and material characteristics, recycled Aluminium can be a solution for your next design.