2012 was a banner year for aluminum. Between innovative advances in manufacturing and groundbreaking design usages, along with award-winning vehicles, 2012 showed that demand continued to grow in North America. From industry journal Metal Bulletin (subscription required for the full article and note the foreign spelling of aluminum):
US and Canadian aluminum demand edged up through most of 2012, even as production slipped, according to industry figures compiled by the Aluminum Assn and the Aluminium Assn of Canada.
Demand (shipments by domestic producers plus imports) totaled more than 21.19 billion pounds in the first 11 months of 2012, up 5.7% from nearly 20.04 billion pound the previous year…
Where does that leave us today? The aluminum industry appears to be on an upward path. During Alcoa’s fourth-quarter earnings report, company representatives spoke of a positive projection for the 2013 fiscal year. From 4-Traders:
Among other Dow components, Alcoa gave up a morning advance to slip 0.2% after the aluminum giant reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings that matched estimates and revenue that was well above forecasts. The company also said it expects the pace of aluminum demand growth in 2013 to increase from 2012.
As an industry, this is exciting news. It indicates the quality of the material in an age where designs focus on the right combination of cost, durability, and weight. With January in the books, there’s no reason to think that it won’t be a case of onward and upward for 2013.
In the classic action film Terminator 2, the villainous T-1000 is made from liquid metal, an amorphous material that instantly seals up any wounds it suffers.
Dev Chidambaram’s research team at the University of Nevada, Reno hasn’t created a liquid-metal formula worthy of Hollywood special effects, but they have done something that’s almost as cool: a self-healing coating for aluminum. Designed for aerospace and defense applications, the molybdate-based formula is also much more environmentally friendly than the cancer-causing chromate coating used in specific situations (but banned for consumer usage).
The research team’s formula uses the term “self-healing” based on the way the coating repairs itself after damages or scratches. From Phys.org:
“When scratched, the coating components from nearby sites migrate to the damaged region and re-protect the underlying alloy. A short video of the coating formation is on Chidambaram’s website, http://www.electrochemical.org under the heading “Cool Videos.”
Chidambaram’s formulation performs comparably to the chromate formula in its ability for self-healing, which is important to the defense and aerospace industry. The coating can be applied to all aluminum products. The new formula creates an environmentally-benign molybdate-based coating that provides corrosion protection to aluminum, used for aircraft and spacecraft. These coatings, when damaged, will re-heal themselves.”
While the team will continue to evolve the formula, the fact that it’s environmentally formula means that we could eventually see this in other industries using aluminum. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean liquid-metal assassins that travel through time. Not yet, anyway.
As this post goes live — yes, this very minute! – There’s a lot going on in Chicago, Illinois. Aluminum Week, the annual industry trade show put on by the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC), the Aluminum Association (AA), and the Aluminum Anodizers Council (AAC), has taken over the city…
For the aluminum industry, it’s as big as it gets, as some of the biggest names in manufacturing, chemistry, research, and production get together under one roof. This year’s theme is “The Road Ahead” and it’s got multiple meanings. The first and most obvious one is the notion of exploring how the aluminum industry moves forward successfully. However, we’ve talked a lot on this blog about aluminum’s usage in the auto industry, and this will be explored in several session panels, including featured speeches by representatives from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Alliance Of Automotive Automobile Manufacturers as well as a luncheon discussion entitled “Double-up on Automotive Aluminum.”
Each year’s Aluminum Week provides valuable insights into industry trends, from manufacturing processes to usage innovations; this year’s version should prove to be just as enlightening. Don’t worry, though — we’ll make sure to take a few minutes to enjoy some of that famous Chicago pizza.
Canada’s top aluminum companies will be investing 15 billion in facility enhancement and job creation in Quebec over the next decade based on “rising global demand” for the material. The need for new transportation systems like buses and subway cars that can be recycled and repaired for less cost when made with aluminum, and the widening call for bridge repair in North America, have enticed Quebec companies to invest heavily in the future of the industry.
Many facts point to an increase in aluminum use in the next 10 years. For starters there are approximately “250,000 older bridges in the United States and 3,000 in Quebec in need of repair.” In addition to that fact aluminum is more “cost effective [than] steel,” has a longer life cycle and when used in vehicles reduces their weight, therefore decreasing wear and tear on roads and bridges. In light of these details it will be easy market the material to current and future manufacturers as it is the greener alternative to other materials, like steel.
Canadian companies celebrate their “cheap hydroelectric energy costs and a trained workforce” as advantages that can only be further enhanced with their new investment. Ultimately the goal for the Canadians is to retaining industry expertise in the province and there’s no doubt their headed in the right direction.
CLICK HERE to read the original article and learn more about the expanded demand for aluminum.