Is Aluminum a Good Conductor of Electricity?

Aluminum is the most common metal and the third most prevalent element on the planet after oxygen and silicon. It accounts for roughly 8% of the earth’s core mass. The atomic number of this element is 13 and the symbol for it is Al. It was created for the first time in 1824.

Aluminum sulphates are the most common form of the chemical, which is a silvery-white material. Bauxite is the most common aluminium resource.

Is metal a good conductor of electricity? Yes, metal is an electrical conductor because it allows current to flow through it. Each aluminium atom has three valence electrons that are loosely connected to the nucleus and roam around at random since they are not affiliated with one atom. As charge carriers, these electrons are easily available and hence aid in the transmission of electricity.

The application of an electric source channels the energy of these electrons, causing them to move in one direction, from the negative to the positive terminal of the provided source, and therefore conduct electricity.

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What Causes Aluminum to Convey Electricity?

The presence of a sea of delocalized electrons inside aluminium makes it a good conductor of electricity.

These electrons do not belong to any one atom and are therefore free to move, assisting in the transmission of energy.

When an electric potential is supplied, these randomly moving electrons begin to flow in a specific direction, from the negative to the positive terminal, and therefore conduct electric current.

Because aluminium is a metal, the atoms within it are bound together by metallic bonding. Metallic bonding is the electrostatic attraction between metal ions arranged in a lattice structure and free-floating electrons.

The orderly repeating pattern of atoms inside a substance is referred to as the lattice structure.

The positively charged lattice of metal atoms is surrounded by loosely held negative electrons inside aluminium.

These loosely held electrons are free to move around in the metal at will, but when a source of power, such as a battery, is provided, the electrons go in one direction, causing an electric current to flow through the metal and allowing electricity to flow.

Because of their abundance, these loosely bound electrons are also known as the “sea of delocalized electrons.”

They also hold the entire structure together and operate as very powerful attraction forces, which is why metals have such high melting and boiling temperatures.

What factors influence a material’s electrical conductivity?

Electrical conductivity refers to a material’s capacity to conduct electricity.

Conductors are compounds that easily conduct electricity, while insulators are substances that do not conduct electricity.

Another type of material is semiconductors, which carry electricity under certain conditions.

A material’s electrical conductivity is measured in Siemens per metre (S/m).

The same substances that are good conductors of electricity are usually strong conductors of heat as well.

A substance must have both positively and negatively charged particles that are free to move in space in order to operate as a conductor. These particles conduct electricity when a potential difference is applied.

Electrons are the carriers of electric current in metals like aluminium, and they are responsible for their conductivity.

As a result, conductivity in metals is determined by the quantity of delocalized electrons. The electrical conductivity of a metal increases as the number of delocalized electrons increases.

For example, group one atoms like sodium (Na+) have just one free electron per ion, whereas group three atoms like aluminium (Al+3) have three delocalized electrons per ion. Because aluminium has more electrons, it is a greater conductor of electricity than sodium.

The property of electrical conductivity, on the other hand, is not limited to metals. Other elements and compounds carry electricity as well.

Ionic chemicals, such as HCl, NaOH, and others, are commonly used as electrical conductors.

The presence of positively and negatively charged particles affects the electrical conductivity of these substances. Cations refer to positively charged particles, while anions refer to negatively charged particles.

In ionic compounds, the cations and anions are responsible for electrical conductivity. These compounds, unlike metals, do not conduct electricity in the solid state, but when dissolved in water, the ions dissociate and conduct electricity.

When these compounds reach their melting point at higher temperatures, they may transmit electricity even without the presence of water molecules.

Strong electrolytes, or those that easily breakdown into ions, are good conductors, whereas those that do not ionise easily are bad conductors. Nonionic substances are not electrically conductive.

Ionic compounds, on the other hand, have higher electrical conductivity as temperature rises, whereas metals have lower conductivity as temperature rises.

Even though graphite is a non-metal and non-ionic molecule, it conducts electricity due to the presence of delocalized electrons in the same way as metals do.

Delocalized electrons are present between the layers of graphite, which has a layered structure. These free-moving electrons are responsible for graphite’s electrical conductivity.

Aluminum’s Electrical Conductivity

Aluminum is a group three metal, which means it has three free electrons in its valence shell.

Because they are loosely connected to their atoms or are delocalized, these electrons move around the aluminium atoms at random.

When a current source is added to the metal, the electrons begin to move in one direction, allowing electricity to flow.

At 20 °C, aluminium has an electrical conductivity of 3.5 X 107 S/m.

Aluminum’s resistance

A material’s resistance is the attribute that acts in the opposite direction of its conductivity.

This means that materials with higher resistance are poor electrical conductors, and vice versa. A material’s resistance is measured in ohms ().

Aluminum has an extremely low electrical resistivity of roughly 2.82 X 10-8-m, indicating that it is a good conductor of electricity.

Although resistance is thought to be a negative force, it is really highly useful in the operation of different electrical equipment such as toasters, which use resistance coils to generate heat energy.

Except for a few materials that have zero resistance and are classified as superconductors, all materials offer some level of resistance.

How Do You Calculate Conductivity?

The electrical conductivity of a material is determined by the ease with which free electrons can travel within it. It is expressed in Siemens per metre or mho per metre.

The conductivity formula is as follows:

L/AR = C

Where L is the conductor’s length.

A = the conductor’s cross-sectional area

R is the conductor’s resistance.

The ohm’s law states that the current flowing through a conductor is directly proportional to the electric field applied to it.

Copper is more conductive than aluminium, but why is that?

Copper has a Fermi level of 7.0 eV and a Fermi energy of 11.7 eV, while aluminium has a Fermi energy of 11.7 eV.

This indicates that the free electrons in the vicinity of the copper atom are more likely to be easily excited. The conduction of electricity is caused by these excited electrons, which explains why copper is more conductive than aluminium.

Copper has a relative conductivity of 394, while aluminium has a conductivity of 238. Aluminum’s conductivity is only about 61 percent that of copper.

The differential in electrical volume resistivity between these two metals is the main reason for this.

The electrical volume resistivity of aluminium is 0.0282 (x mm2)/m, while that of copper is 0.017241 (x mm2)/m, which is exceptionally low, almost half that of aluminium.

This means that in order for aluminium to have lower resistivity than copper, its cross-sectional area must be increased. In fact, an aluminium conductor would need 56 percent greater cross-sectional area than copper to achieve the same electrical volume resistivity.

Conductivity is inversely proportional to cross-sectional area, as we saw in the previous section. As a result, copper is a better electrical conductor than aluminium.

Furthermore, when compared to aluminium, the coefficient of thermal expansion is lower for copper.

This value represents the volume change in an electrical conductor as a function of temperature. Because copper has a lower value, it reduces the risk of destructive forces acting inside the conductor posing a threat to the conductor’s safety.

Even though copper is a superior conductor of electricity and a safer material to employ, it is not widely used in the manufacture of electrical lines.

This is due to the fact that copper is far more expensive than aluminium, which is abundant in nature.

Properties

Aluminum is malleable, ductile, hard, an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and can be formed into a variety of alloys, just like other metals. Here are a few more homes to consider:

• It’s a non-magnetic silvery-white solid. Take a look at an essay produced on the topic of aluminium magnetic.

• It has a little blue tint and is non-lustrous.

• It is non-sparkling, yet the surface can be reflective at times.

• It is particularly stable due to its face-centered cubic form.

• It resists corrosion by forming an oxide layer on its surface.

• Aluminum has a density of 2.70 gm/cm3.

• It has a melting point of 660.3 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of 2470 degrees Celsius.

• Aluminum is very combustible in powder form.

• It is easily alloyed with copper, iron, zinc, and other metals.

• It is lightweight and long-lasting.

Aluminum’s Applications

Aluminum has a wide range of uses, including the following:

• It’s utilised in the manufacture of electrical casings.

• It’s employed in the construction of electrical conductor lines.

• It’s utilised in the manufacture of heat sinks, particularly for transistors and CPUs.

• Aluminum is also used in aircraft fuselages.

• It’s utilised in the production of aluminium foil. You should also read an interesting article about does aluminium foil burn and can aluminium foil be recycled.

• Aluminum foil is used in the kitchen to store food and keep it warm for an extended period of time.

• It’s also used to make cans, culinary utensils, and window frames, among other things.

• When aluminium vapours are evaporated in a vacuum, they form a highly reflective, long-lasting coating. These coatings are utilised in the manufacture of telescope mirrors, toys, and packaging materials, among other things.

• Because aluminium is the second most malleable metal, it is employed in a wide range of items. It is a vital component of all modes of transportation, including aeroplanes, trains, and vehicles.

Conclusion

• Due to the existence of delocalized electrons that aid in the transmission of electric current, aluminium is a good conductor of electricity.

• The ability of a material to carry electricity is known as electrical conductivity. Conductors are materials that can conduct electricity, while insulators are those that cannot.

• The electrical conductivity unit is Siemens per metre (S/m), and the electrical conductivity of aluminium at 20 °C is 3.5 X 107 S/m.

• Aluminum is also a good conductor because of its low electrical resistivity of 2.82 X 10-8-m.

• The formula for determining a material’s conductivity is:

L/AR = C

• Copper has a higher relative conductivity and a lower electrical volume resistivity than aluminium, making it a better conductor of electricity.

Read more: Is It True That Aluminium Is Magnetic?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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