Aluminium and titanium

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1.   Properties common to  BOTH METALS

Both aluminium and titanium:

  • have low density (i.e. they're lightweight).
  • are strong
  • have a very thin layer of oxide on the surface (look at the diagram to the right). This oxide layer stops air and water getting to the metal, so resists corrosion.
  • are abundant in nature (i.e. there's quite a lot around)
  • like iron and copper, are found as oxides in ores
  • unlike iron, cannot be extracted from their oxides by the method of reduction with carbon.
  • are expensive to extract because a lot of energy is needed for this.
2.   ALUMINIUM:  more information

Additional properties  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

In addition to the properties listed above, aluminium is:

  • a good conductor of electricity and heat
  • easy to recycle.

Uses  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

  • Being light and strong, aluminium is used for aircraft, trains, car bodies
  • Being a good conductor of electricity and heat, as well as being strong, it is used for overhead power cables, saucepans and cooking foil.
Extraction  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

Aluminium cannot be extracted from its oxides by reduction with carbon, because it is more reactive than carbon, so the reduction reaction does not work.

Recycling  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

Aluminium is extensively recycled because, apart from being easy to recycle, less energy is needed to recycle it than is needed to extract aluminium from its ore. So recycling it:

  • is cheaper
  • is better for the environment because less fuel is needed to produce the energy and because aluminium resources are preserved.
3.   TITANIUM:  more information

Additional properties  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

In addition to the properties listed above, titanium has:

  • a high melting point, so titanium structures can withstand very high temperatures.

NOTE: Although titanium is a lightweight metal, it is not as light as aluminium.

Uses  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

  • Being light and strong, it's used for artificial hip joints
  • Being light, strong and heat-resistant, it's used for fighter aircraft and pipes in nuclear power stations, etc.

Extraction  ¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

Titanium cannot be extracted from its oxides by reduction with carbon, because titanium reacts with the carbon (to form titanium carbide), so is impure and brittle.

Titanium extraction needs several stages of processing.

[ This page has been adapted from www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science ]