Did you know that in 1886 Charles Martin Hall presented his process for inexpensively producing aluminum? Aluminum is a light-weight metal that resists corrosion. It is used to make airplanes, boats, bicycles, car parts, food and beverage containers, window frames, streetlight poles, rocket fuel, and more. Assisted by his sister, Julia Brainerd Hall, Charles developed a process that reduced the cost of producing aluminum from $12.00 per pound to just $0.30 per pound!
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Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. The main ore, or source of aluminum, is bauxite.
Aluminum is the most widely used non-ferrous metal. More than 31 million tons of aluminum is produced each year. It is usually produced as an alloy with copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, or silicon.
In Noah Webster’s dictionary, the spelling for aluminum is ‘aluminium’ and was used in America, until the 1900’s. Charles Hall used ‘aluminium’ on his patent. The ‘American’ spelling of ‘aluminum’ was adopted by the American Chemical Society in 1925.
Almost the same process was discovered by Paul Héroult in France. His sister’s testimony and letters from Charles to his brothers helped to prove to the US patent office that Charles Hall had discovered the process before Paul Héroult did. The process though, came to be known as the Hall-Héroult process.
Christopher Martin Hall was one of the founders of the company ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America).