Aluminum is an everyday material that comes into contact with people and significantly helps multiple industries every day. In the material sphere, we should continue to use and recycle aluminum because its reusability is second to none. Aluminum great product for many industries, such as automotive, aerospace, and commercial, to help the planet and many issues. In the energy sphere, we should continue to optimize the primary production process and continue to use the secondary production process. The energy intensity of the primary production process is the single biggest issue with the aluminum material, its 100% recyclability allows for the secondary process to use 5% of the energy. More focus on secondary production will lead to reduced energy demands and less greenhouse gas emissions. In the environmental sphere, we should continue to use aluminum in a way that can better the environment by improving engine efficiency, strength, and protection. It’s 100% recyclability allows this material to be 100% sustainable, and any use of this material can allow for reuse of aluminum waste.
For the material sphere, the continued use of aluminum is a positive because of its sustainability aspect. Its ability to transform multiple industries with its chemical properties is unmatched. Its light weight and durability allows for the automotive industry to revolutionize vehicle manufacturing. Aluminum can replace steel to make vehicle frames lighter and stronger. Lighter frames will lead to increased fuel efficiency, this leads to less greenhouse gas emissions, less dependence on fossil fuels, and improved environmental health. These are just a few of the benefits, the sustainability aspect allows for the recyclability aluminum frames. So, if someone gets in a car crash and the car is destroyed, then the aluminum frame can be set to a recycle plant to be melted down and reused rather than put in a junk yard. The stronger frames also allow for safer driving, the more force that can be taken by a car frame will decrease the chances of driver injury during accidents. Additionally, in the aerospace industry, the same effects of lighter and stronger frames apply. This also leads to increased fuel efficiency for planes and spaceships and improved safety. Finally, for the commercial industry the use of 100% recyclability allows for reuse of soda cans. This fact helps cut down on the amount of plastic in circulation, and with the current problems with plastic littering and slow decomposition, the switch to more reusable materials will cut that environmental problem down.
For the energy sphere, the optimization of the primary production process or increased use of secondary production would be most beneficial for the sustainability of aluminum. The extraction phase of aluminum is not very energy intensive because it only requires the energy use of the extraction equipment, which isn’t very much. The transportation phase is similar to the extraction phase, only the energy required to move the material is detrimental. Comparatively, the extraction and transportation phase make up much less energy demand than the primary production process. The primary production process is the chemical process turning the raw material bauxite into a finished aluminum product, which is very energy intensive. The energy required is often fueled by nonrenewable sources, so it adds to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Optimizing the process can involving switching to more renewable sources of energy, reusing the heat used in the process to reheat other bauxite being chemically altered, or finding more optimal ways to turn bauxite into aluminum. Anyone or all of these options will help reduce the carbon footprint of the aluminum product and make it an even more sustainable product than it already is. Focusing more on the secondary production, recycling aluminum, could also reduce the emissions because this product only requires 5% of the energy of primary production.
In the environmental sphere, the continued use of aluminum will help with the environmental problems of the world as described above. Continued implementation in the automotive and aerospace industry will lead to increase fuel efficiency and decreased emissions. Optimization of the primary production process will reduce emissions, while also making aluminum an even more desirable product. Additionally, focus of the secondary production process will lead to more recycled aluminum use and decreased energy use from primary to secondary production. The 100% recyclability of aluminum is an amazing positive to the environment, its multiple benefits in different industries allows for better environmental health overall.
The main changes to focus for the increased sustainability of aluminum are increased implementation into automotive/ aerospace industry, optimization of primary production, and increased use of secondary production. Continuing the implementation of aluminum into vehicle frames will allow for continued improvement in fuel efficiency and reduction in emissions worldwide. Focus heavily on secondary production over primary production because recycled plants can be built around the world. This can cut down on pollution from transportation and primary production because plants closer to the customer will reduce the transportation pollution and more recycled aluminum will reduce need to extract aluminum and primarily produce. Optimizing primary production by reusing water/ heat from steam or using renewable energy to fuel the production will reduce the energy demand. Since primary production is the worst aspect of aluminum, improving this aspect will help to reduce the total foot print for aluminum in general and make it an even better product.