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Aluminium production

Aluminium production

T810/0271

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Credit

MAXIMILIAN STOCK LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MAXIMILIAN STOCK LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Aluminium processing plant. Worker siphoning off molten aluminium in an aluminium processing plant. Aluminium metal is produced from the aluminium ore bauxite. The first stage involves crushing the bauxite, dissolving it in caustic soda and then heating it to precipitate out alumina, a white powder. The alumina is then mixed with molten cryolite (sodium-aluminium fluoride) in a tank lined with pitch and coke. This lining acts as a cathode. A carbon anode is inserted into the tank and an electrical current is passed through it. This breaks the alumina down into molten aluminium and oxygen. The aluminium is siphoned off and cooled before any further processing.

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