October 03, 2014

We’re toasting aluminum this week!

It’s Aluminum Week, and we’re celebrating.  We’re celebrating that Gator has fabricated hundreds of thousands of square feet of aluminum docks, gangways, bridges, walkways and other structures. 

More importantly, we’re celebrating aluminum’s tremendous achievements in the relatively brief period since its discovery.  Aluminum’s colorful history includes a stunning range of applications. To illustrate, we explored the Aluminum Association’s outstanding website and came away with dozens of factoids, which we have culled into these nuggets:

  • Aluminum goes the extra mile. The first car engine with aluminum parts was developed in 1901.
  • Aluminum soars.  In 1903, the Wright brothers used aluminum to make the engine crankcase for their first wood-frame biplane.
  • Aluminum saves lives.  Aluminum auto body structures are equal or superior in strength to steel and absorb twice as much crash-induced energy.  Likewise, aluminum road-side crash rails dissipate collision impact by directing energy away from a vehicle’s occupants.
  • Aluminum to the rescue! The U.S. Coast Guard’s aluminum-intensive, first-response lifeboats are self-bailing, self-righting and virtually unsinkable.
  • Aluminum is a great helper in the kitchen. Aluminum foil, first produced in 1903, provides a complete barrier to light, oxygen, moisture and bacteria. Cooking utensils, dishwashers, and refrigerators are also commonly made of aluminum.
  • Aluminum is green. The metal has a 20 percent smaller lifecycle CO2 footprint than steel. Nearly 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today. On average, a recycled aluminum can becomes a new can in less than 60 days.
  • old-cans

  • Aluminum led space exploration.  Remember Sputnik?  No?  Oh, maybe you weren’t around in 1957, when Russia put the first man-made satellite into orbit. Since then, aluminum has also been a player in construction of Apollo spacecraft, the Skylab, the space shuttles and the International Space Station.
  • Aluminum’s future looks powerful!  Aluminum-air batteries have demonstrated the ability to power an electric vehicle for up to 1,000 miles.

Our suggestion for a great Aluminum Week celebration:  After a fall day on the lake in an aluminum watercraft, return to the aluminum dock, remove your foil-wrapped meal and a beverage can from a cooler, and enjoy the sunset!

Let’s close with a piece of trivia for celebrants: Do you know what a “church key” is?  If so, you’re showing your age!  For younger readers:  When flat-top steel beer cans became popular, they were opened with a special tool, popularly called the “church key,” to puncture triangular holes in the top. In the late 1950s, Coors introduced the aluminum beer can, which led to the demise of steel beverage cans. It wasn’t long before aluminum cans with built-in “pop tops” killed the need for church keys!

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