Using Aluminum Bar to Create Electric Power Lines and More
The aluminum industry processes the metal ore that can be readily shipped and accessed by industry. Mixing silicon and magnesium, among other metals, into aluminum creates specialized metals that can be uniquely developed for a specific purpose. One such purpose involves the electric power industry. Aluminum has a number of unique, beneficial properties that make it useful for many different situations.
Aluminum is highly conductive to electricity and can carry twice the amount electricity as copper. It’s also corrosion resistant, strong (depending on the alloy), and lightweight. For over one hundred years, these properties have made aluminum the only metal used in electric power transmission.
History of Electric Power Transmission
Electric Utilities have been using aluminum wire for transmitting electricity from the time of Thomas Edison and Nicholas Tesla’s inventions of direct current and alternating current power generation systems.
Westinghouse adopted the AC transmission system and proved it could economically transmit power across great distances, creating economy of scale in the electric power generation. Aluminum was superior to copper and made long distance power transmission a reality.
Aluminum Bar and Rod Production
Bar and rod are produced with similar processes. The aluminum ingot is melted into molten aluminum. This material is then drawn directly to extrusion dies making the bar shape with any number of flat sides. Other processes consist of rolling and coiling the metal into rods. While the rod is circular in shape, the bar has flat sides, which allows its use in a great number of applications.
Wire from Aluminum Bar
The “billet” is heated and pushed through a die that reduces the size of the bar, making it smaller and thinner. After a series of dies, the wire is formed and coiled. The bar allows for specialized applications that require wires to fit together when wound around a supporting core. This is a common feature of five-hundred kilovolt transmission lines. Rods are pushed progressively through smaller and smaller dies to produce a round or circular wire for use in smaller electrical applications.
Other Applications for an Aluminum Bar
As a rectangular shape, it is useful for switchgears, control apparatus’ and busways. It also allows for the easy creation of bolts, taps and welds for various industrial applications.
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