By Simon Hradecky, created Monday, December 07, 2017 08:17:04More than half of all the aluminium that goes into a product is made from raw materials that are typically sourced from China, according to a new study by Cornell University.
The study, published in the journal Chemistry of Materials and Interfaces, also found that a large proportion of the aluminium used in new vehicles comes from a process that is highly toxic to humans.
It’s not just the aluminium, either.
Researchers found that, on average, nearly 60 per cent of aluminium that’s made is made by a process where aluminium oxide is used to make the aluminium part, as opposed to the more traditional method of grinding.
This process is known as metallurgical chromatography, and it’s used to process raw aluminium to make aluminium powder.
This is where the problem is most apparent, as it uses a process called pyrolysis, which produces highly toxic aluminium oxide that is used in other products such as coatings and in the production of aluminium alloy.
Pyrolytic processes are also used to produce metals such as nickel, titanium and manganese.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has called them “dangerous, hazardous, and potentially life-threatening” processes, and the Australian government has also called for them to be banned.
A study from Cornell University’s Applied Materials Laboratory shows that about two-thirds of all aluminium produced in the United States is made through metallurgy.
In the US, there are currently no rules that explicitly prohibit metallurgic processes.
But the study suggests that if metallurists are not properly trained to protect the public, they could be exposed to greater risk.
“If metallogic processes are allowed to continue in the US with no effective controls, the risk of a toxic exposure to the general public will be even higher than it is today,” Cornell University professor of chemistry Dr John DeWitt said in a statement.
“The public health impacts of metallum production have not been well studied, and there is a risk that the risks will continue to rise.”
Metallurgists are trained to identify and minimise risks to human health and the environment, according Cornell University Professor of Chemistry Dr John Keeling, who led the research.
“We’ve found that it’s the metallocomponents that we have to worry about,” he said.
“There are compounds that are highly toxic, and those are not going to be isolated in the environment.”
This is why there are restrictions on metallography, the process by which raw aluminium is processed into the final product.
The process uses heat, pressure and chemicals to remove metals from the aluminium.
The Cornell study found that about 60 per per cent is produced from raw aluminium in China.
“It’s probably not a surprising finding that China is a significant source of aluminium, but that there’s a huge amount of aluminum coming out of China,” said DeWitte.
The research, conducted by a team of scientists led by Dr Jennifer Egan from Cornell, showed that about 2.6 per cent per year of aluminium is extracted from raw sources in China, compared to about 1.3 per cent in the USA.
The majority of aluminium used by car manufacturers is sourced from the United Kingdom, where the production process is less stringent.
The new study is just the latest in a series of studies that have found that raw aluminium from China is more toxic to people than is the case in the West.
Last year, a report by the Environmental Protection Association found that in 2014, the US exported almost 1.4 million tonnes of aluminium.