Military metal in the flip of a switch

06.13.17

The U.S. could use an existing technology to produce all the specialized “high-purity” aluminum it needs for defense applications, seemingly with the flip of a switch, according to Bloomberg.

Aluminum research firm Harbor Intelligence estimates that less than 1% of total U.S. aluminum production is consumed by the Defense Department. There are about 75,000 metric tons of high-purity aluminum inventories in the U.S., enough to supply the military for 2.5 years. Additionally, about 117,000 tons are already produced annually in the U.S., with another 75,000 tons of idled capacity that could be flipped on.

Harbor estimates that using fractional crystallization to produce high-purity aluminum would only be about 2% more expensive than using the traditional high-purity smelting process. Primary aluminum turned into the high purity variety would cost about $2,548 a ton, while high-purity aluminum right now costs about $2,493 in the spot market. (Source: Bloomberg)


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