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What are the properties of aluminum?

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Quick Answer

Aluminum is a lightweight, ductile metal with a density roughly one-third that of steel. Despite its low density, aluminum is strong for its weight and can easily be alloyed with other metals to produce useful compounds.

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Full Answer

Aluminum is a Period 3 metal that exists as a solid at room temperature. The element is atomic number 13, with an atomic mass of 26.98. Aluminum's melting point is 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit, and its boiling point is 4,566 degrees Fahrenheit. In its solid phase, aluminum has a density of 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter, though its low density does not significantly impact its strength.

Unlike steel alloys, aluminum does not become brittle at low temperatures. Instead, pure aluminum and many of its alloys become stronger at low temperatures. At temperatures over 212 degrees Fahrenheit, aluminum softens and weakens significantly as a load-bearing material. Aluminum is easy to work with, as it responds well to most forms of machining with very little energy input.

Aluminum is an excellent conductor of both heat and electricity. Pure aluminum has an electrical conductivity similar to that of copper but at only half of copper's weight. It is also a good reflector of visible light and radiated heat, which makes it useful as a wrap for food.

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