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Which metallic element is the most abundant?

Learn the most abundant metallic element and where it's found.

These food trays are made with the most abundant metallic element on earth. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
These food trays are made with the most abundant metallic element on earth.

Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element on the surface of the earth and moon; it composes more than eight percent of the earth's crust. It is never free in nature, combining with oxygen, sand, iron and titanium; its ores are mainly bauxites (aluminum hydroxide).

Nearly all rocks, particularly igneous rocks, contain aluminum as aluminosilicate minerals. Napoleon III (1808-1883) recognized that the physical characteristic of its lightness could revolutionize the arms industry, so he granted a large subsidy to French chemist Sainte-Claire Deville (1818-1881) to develop a method to make its commercial use feasible.

In 1854, Deville obtained the first pure aluminum metal through the process of reduction of aluminum chloride. In 1886, the American Charles Martin Hall (1863-1914) and the Frenchman Paul Heroult (1863-1914) independently discovered an electrolytic process to produce aluminum from bauxite.

Because of aluminum's resistance to corrosion, low density and excellent heat-conducting property it is used in cookware manufacturing and can-making industries. It is a good conductor of electricity and is widely used in overhead cables.

Aluminum alloys, such as duralumin, have high tensile strengths and are of considerable industrial importance, especially in the aerospace industry.

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