Having amateur, home chemists around is crucial to scientific advancement. Did you know that at one time aluminum was considered to be as precious as silver? The metal was so difficult to extract that its value was greatly inflated. Then came Charles Martin Hall.
Charles Martin Hall tried for many years in his backyard to produce aluminum. He made all of his laboratory equipment and either made or obtained all of his own chemicals. Assisted by his older sister, he finally succeeded in discovering a cheap and quick way to produce aluminum. That was some time around 1886. No metal, since the prehistoric discovery of iron, had become so widely used as aluminum.
It’s amazing that a home chemist discovered this very valuable process. It is important to note that another person, named Paul Héroult discovered the process at nearly the same time and therefore the process is known as Hall-Héroult process.
Interesting Fact In a previous post I commented on the American spelling of “aluminum” compared to the rest of the world where “aluminium” is the norm. It is thought that he may have misspelled the word on a packet of literature featuring his process. From that point on it has been referred to, in the U.S., as aluminum.
[Inspiration and Original Info] Amazing Rust
[Information Source] Edwards, Junius. The Immortal Woodshed. Dodd, Mead, and Co., New York. 1955. pp. 1 – 85.
[Information Source] Wikipedia
[Image Source] (The image used is now public domain) Wikipedia