Aluminium and Titanium

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A series of free IGCSE Chemistry Activities and Experiments (Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry).

Aluminium & Titanium
Aluminium and titanium are two metals with a low density. This means that they are lightweight for their size. They also have a very thin layer of their oxides on the surface, which stops air and water getting to the metal, so aluminium and titanium resist corrosion. These properties make the two metals very useful.
Aluminium is used for aircraft, trains, overhead power cables, saucepans and cooking foil. Titanium is used for fighter aircraft, artificial hip joints and pipes in nuclear power stations.

Unlike iron, aluminium and titanium cannot be extracted from their oxides by reduction with carbon:
• Aluminium is more reactive than carbon, so the reaction does not work.
• Titanium forms titanium carbide with carbon, which makes the metal brittle.

Aluminium extraction is expensive because the process needs a lot of electrical energy. Aluminium is mined in huge scales as bauxite. In order to isolate pure aluminium, impurities must be removed from the bauxite. This is done by the Bayer process, which involves treatment with sodium hydroxide solution, followed by purification using electrolysis.

Titanium extraction is expensive because the process involves several stages and a lot of energy. This especially limits the uses of titanium. Titanium is isolated using the Kroll method. This involves the action of chlorine and carbon on the titanium ore followed by fractional distillation and then reduction with magnesium.

Recycling Metals
Why should we recycle metals?

  1. Metals ore are running out.
  2. Mining metals is damaging the environment. (e.g. destruction of habitats and toxic pollution)
  3. Extracting fresh metal uses more energy than recycling metals.

Check out the following lesson for a more detailed explanation on the process of aluminium extraction.
Extracting Aluminium

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