Aluminum Bottles/Packaging Demand Growing

Alcoa Logo

Alcoa Logo

We know that the demand for aluminum bottles and all sorts of aluminum packaging is really growing.

We see it in the steady stream of new products packaged in aluminum bottles. This blog has chronicled some of them including aluminum bottles for perfume, beer, fruit juices, whiskeys, wines, etc.

Aluminum giant Alcoa confirms what we have been seeing in both the consumer and industrial markets. The company sees 2011 global aluminum demand growing by 12% and doubling within 10 years! That is indeed very healthy growth, especially in these dismal economic times. In comparison, steel demand is expected to grow by only 5.3% in 2011.

While a lot of the volume is coming from transportation and infrastructure, Alcoa noted that its packaging segment is up 45%. That represents a lot of growth in usage of aluminum bottles, cans and other aluminum packaging materials.

We can expect continued growth in aluminum bottles, both industrial and consumer, as awareness of aluminum’s advantages especially in environmental friendliness grows.

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One Liter Aluminum Beer Can

Tuborg Aluminum Bottle

Tuborg Aluminum Bottle

I don’t normally post about aluminum cans but I had to make an exception for this new 1 liter aluminum can of Carlsberg Tuborg Pilsener beer.

That’s a huge aluminum can, compared to what’s available here. This is a 2 piece can rather than a 3 piece tin cans. Technically, this is very interesting. Also, one of the reasons for the switch and for my post is the emphasis on the fact that aluminum is “100 percent and infinitely recyclable without loss of quality”.

Aluminum Bottle Weight Advantages

This is a follow-on to my previous post on the weight advantages of aluminum.

In that post, I compared the weights of one-gallon bottles made of aluminum, plastic, glass, and tin.  Aluminum emerged as one of the lightest bottles, second only to plastic, which has well-known environmental negatives.

The weight advantages of aluminum across the value chain are clearly being recognized by some of the most innovative beer brewers around the world.  The 16-Mile Brewing Company packages its beer line in aluminum bottles.  According to the company, “During the initial transport to the restaurant or retailer, distributors report that with the lighter aluminum bottles they can place more cases on a pallet. This means that less shipments are needed and less trucks are on the road, thus reducing fuel consumption and emissions.”

From a consumer perspective, the light weight aluminum bottles also means greater convenience and less personal energy consumption.  After all, the average glass beer bottle weighs about 6-7 oz compared to 1 oz for an aluminum bottle.  You can lug a lot more beers in aluminum bottles than in glass.

Anodized Aluminum Bottles

Anodized Aluminum Bottle

Anodized Aluminum Bottle

One of great advantages of our wide mouth aluminum bottles is the fact that they can be anodized.

Anodizing is described in anodizing.org as “an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface into a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish.”  You can find anodized aluminum products everywhere including in aircraft parts, architectural materials, and many consumer products such as MP3 players, flashlights, cookware, cameras, sporting goods, etc.

Some interesting facts about anodized aluminum from anodized.org:

  • “Used in one of the world’s tallest buildings — the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Provides attractive, minimum-maintenance, highly durable exteriors, roofs, curtain walls, ceilings, floors, escalators, lobbies and staircases in skyscrapers and commercial buildings throughout the world.
  • Revolutionized the construction of computer hardware, exhibit displays for trade shows, scientific instruments, and a constantly expanding array of home appliances, consumer products, and building materials.
  • Considered environmentally safe, producing few, if any, harmful effects on land, air, or water.”

For our own industrial aluminum bottle customers, anodization makes the surface smoother and allows for  easier pouring of powders.  It also enhances resistance to certain more acidic powders which makes it ideal for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) applications. Unlike other metals that deteriorate when oxidized (think rust on iron) , aluminum experiences a  “positive oxidation” that occurs naturally. The anodization process accelerates the phenomenon resulting in a layer of aluminum oxide that is actually protective, not destructive.

That’s because anodization is achieved using simple electrolytic processes we learned in high school experiments.  The aluminum is placed in an acid electrolyte bath and an electric current is passed through the medium. Oxygen ions are released from the electrolyte and combine with the aluminum atoms.   So anodizing is basically highly controlled oxidation, without the negative effects.

   

Aluminum Advantages

Aluminum Advantages in Transportation

Aluminum Advantages in Transportation

There is a great article that I came across in the Aluminum in Transportation website that talks about the advantages of using aluminum in the transportation industry.

We’re aluminum packaging people but many of the advantages the article points out are as relevant to packaging as they are to transportation.  I wanted to focus on two points in the article:

  • Aluminum allows manufacturers to maintain or increase the size of their SUVs while reducing weight by up to 20 percent
  • Aluminum can compete successfully with less costly materials because of the advantages it brings in primary and secondary weight saving, structural performance and design flexibility

In my previous post, I pointed out aluminum’s weight advantages vs. glass and plastic from a simple layman’s perspective. From a manufacturer’s point of view, reducing weight by 20% makes aluminum a lot easier and cheaper to handle in both manufacturing and physical distribution. Its structural strength also makes possible lower breakage rates in handling across the supply chain. Many manufacturers sometimes overlook this weight advantage, focusing too much on the initial costs.

Manufacturers can potentially ship more products per pallet-load or container-load using aluminum packages instead of glass or steel. That makes for savings that could be significant.

Going back to my layman’s perspective, this weight advantage has practical value for the end user. I can lug a lot more beer, wine, whiskey in aluminum bottles when I go to my next picnic. And I don’t have to worry about breaking them.

I think I’ll do another experiment. I’m going to load up two coolers – one with aluminum bottles and another with glass bottles. Then I’ll compare the overall weight and number of bottles in each cooler. I suspect the cooler with aluminum bottles wins 🙂

Aluminum – The Element

It’s easy to forget that aluminum is one of the basic elements of nature. Just review the periodic table of elements from high school and you’ll see that aluminum – with atomic number of 13 – is among the most basic elements. It’s right next to Silicon (atomic number of 14)Professor

The Properties of the Element Aluminum:
Name of Element : Aluminum
Symbol of Element : Al
Atomic Number of Aluminum : 13
Atomic Mass: 26.981539 amu
Melting Point: 660.37 °C – 933.52 °K
Boiling Point: 2467.0 °C – 2740.15 °K
Number of Protons/Electrons in Aluminum : 13
Number of Neutrons in Aluminum : 14
Crystal Structure: Cubic
Density @ 293 K: 2.702 g/cm3
Color of Aluminum : silvery-white

Interestingly enough – aluminum in its pure, unalloyed state is silvery-white in color.

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Facts About Aluminum

Alum_elementDid you know that . . .

The metallic element aluminum is the third most plentiful element in the earth’s crust, comprising 8% of the planet’s soil and rocks (oxygen and silicon make up 47% and 28%, respectively). In nature, aluminum is found only in chemical compounds with other elements such as sulphur, silicon, and oxygen. Pure, metallic aluminum can be economically produced only from aluminum oxide ore.

Metallic aluminum has many properties that make it useful in a wide range of applications. It is lightweight, strong, nonmagnetic, and nontoxic. It conducts heat and electricity and reflects heat and light. It is strong but easily workable, and it retains its strength under extreme cold without becoming brittle. The surface of aluminum quickly oxidizes to form an invisible barrier to corrosion. Furthermore, aluminum can easily and economically be recycled into new products.

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