IAI announces the top 50 Moments in the history of aluminium

Two industrial processes lead the way

The International Aluminium Institute (IAI) has today announced the top 50 Moments in the history of aluminium, as voted for by industry leaders and partners, peers and those working in, or fascinated by, the aluminium industry.

The discovery of the Hall-Héroult Process in 1886 was voted the No.1 moment.

The Hall-Héroult Process is an industrial process for smelting aluminium – a process that brought the metal into large-scale production and was invented by Charles Martin Hall and Paul Héroult.

Following closely behind in the runner-up position is another process – the Bayer Process developed by Carl Josef Bayer in 1988, which marked an economical means of refining bauxite to produce alumina.

Rounding out the top 3 is the production of aluminium cans, which since the 1960s have provided the world with a lightweight, recyclable way of enjoying drinks. Today, around 180 billion cans globally are used every year.

The #50Moments is part of IAI’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary. The Institute was founded in April 1972 and in 2022 has been reflecting on the milestones, products and people that have shaped society and the industry – and will continue to do so for many years to come.

The full list of moments spans more than 200 years – from Humphry Davy identifying this new metal in 1808, to the first aluminium sustainability label using blockchain technology in 2021.

IAI Secretary General Miles Prosser said: “Across two centuries, there have been countless innovation milestones, such as the Wright brothers’ pioneering first journey of The Wright Flyer, the construction of the Empire State Building and the Apollo 11 moon landing – not to mention the invention of the small but perfectly formed ring pull.

Additionally, there have been key moments that have moved the dial for those working in the sector – from Carl Josef Bayer’s 19th century refining process and the first rolled product, to the introduction of aluminium alloys, techniques for reducing emissions and, of course, the founding of the Institute itself in 1972.

The 50th Anniversary of the IAI has been a wonderful opportunity to explore the history of our fascinating industry – to go back beyond our lifetime and look at the events and innovation that have led us to where we are today. The 50 Moments list highlights the evolution of aluminium and its contribution to society, culture and our planet.”

The Institute was established in 1972 primarily to foster industry collaboration with a focus on collecting and publishing statistical data – and this remains one of the IAI’s core priorities. During the past 50 years, the IAI has been a leading voice for the global aluminium industry, providing credible and robust statistical data, and providing a forum for the industry to discuss the industry on a sustainable journey.

Mr Prosser added: “The future of our industry is driven by consumers’ growing appetite for environmentally friendly solutions in transport, infrastructure, energy and food security – and the IAI understands the challenges ahead. Part of our role at the IAI is to raise awareness of pioneering solutions that reduce our environmental impact without compromising product quality and to support the quick and efficient adoption of these technologies. I am pleased to see the development of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions in our list of top 50 Moments – a strong indication of where the aluminium industry is heading to create even more sustainable moments in the future. I am excited to see what key milestones lie ahead.”

Download full list here.


Notes to Editors

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About the IAI  

The International Aluminium Institute (IAI) is the only body representing the global primary aluminium industry. The Institute has the most comprehensive global data on Aluminium with more than 40 years of analysis on production, consumption, energy use and environmental impact. For more information, visit http://international-aluminium.org/, or connect with us on LinkedIn or Twitter.