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Author: Subject: What to do with aluminum shavings?
Assured Fish
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[*] posted on 30-11-2017 at 21:21
What to do with aluminum shavings?


Ok so there is a CNC machine where i work and they regularly cut aluminium, 6061 grade usually.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6061_aluminium_alloy

So i can acquire kilogram quantities of aluminium swarf, the place normally throws it out but i cannot bare to see it thrown away knowing how much effort went into separating it from its minerals.

What im looking for are some unique or simply useful things i could accomplish with this stuff.
The idea i had was to build a large ball mill that could crush up 10 or so kilos of the stuff and simply turn it all into powder over a few weeks and then sell it.
The obvious issue with this is that its not remarkably pure and contains 2-4% impurities such as silicon, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc.
Within New Zealand there is no local source for aluminium powder that isn't a chemical supplier, i could sell it through the NZ online trader Trademe.
But given that the chinese and indian suppliers on ebay could easily out do me with price and purity i kinda don't see the point anymore.

Any suggestions would be great.
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[*] posted on 30-11-2017 at 21:29


Making a ball mill is pretty easy. I made one for free from junk I had lying around my place and it's not as hard as I thought.

Alternatively, it might be cheaper in the short term to just melt it down and sell it as ingots. Aluminum is pretty expensive, although the high surface area might result in a lot of oxide waste.

If you need ideas for making the ball mill - Here's a plug to the video on my nascent youtube channel.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O6cI4V97Mc

I couldn't stand to see that much good aluminum wasted either.
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[*] posted on 30-11-2017 at 21:48


I am surprisex they do not collect it and send it to the recyclers. The places I have workedhave used the recycling money for the Christmas beer fund. If you get it for free there js no reason why you could not do the same.
A ball mi was my second thought and might even be profitable.
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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 07:46


You could make a lot of thermite!

It's not just for molten iron anymore. Many metals can be reduced with a thermite reaction.
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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 11:17


Quote: Originally posted by PirateDocBrown  
You could make a lot of thermite!

It's not just for molten iron anymore. Many metals can be reduced with a thermite reaction.


Thermate is much more fun to use than ordinary thermite.




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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 11:20


Try making sodium metal.

NaOH + Al swarf (unmilled) might work.




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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 12:29


Quote: Originally posted by aga  
Try making sodium metal.

NaOH + Al swarf (unmilled) might work.


Pretty sure some brands of drain cleaner use that, it just generates hydrogen and sodium aluminate. Particle size needs to be a bit lower for the reduction of NaOH to happen instead.




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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 13:02


NurdRage's Mg + NaOH worked - just mix, stick in an old tin can, light it off then cover to exclude air (kinda).

One way to find out ....




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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 13:33


If that would work with Al as well, it would be awesome!

But I guess Al + NaOH dry mixed needs some persuasion to get going... Don't know for sure though.




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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 13:53


So you won't try it out ?

Just roughly mix up NaOH and some metal bits, stick it in an empty food tin, chuck in something hot (i'd use lit Mg ribbon, or a lit sparkler) then slap a brick on top.

Suppose i will Have To then.




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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 14:57


I want to try it out as well, however at the moment it is midnight (5 before 12 in my time zone) and I need to find some fireproof spot where I can test it safely.

I wonder if Al-powder of 0.3 mm diameter would suffice... I'll test it when I get to it.




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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 01:53


I found I video by a Russian guy named "dr nitro crazy scientist" or something like that he used aluminium powder mixed with KOH to distill out potassium apparently it works with sodium as well.
2KOH + Al = K + KAlO2 + H2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5JdPQucTjjg

[Edited on 2-12-2017 by Foeskes]

[Edited on 2-12-2017 by Foeskes]
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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 02:44


Quote: Originally posted by aga  
NurdRage's Mg + NaOH worked - just mix, stick in an old tin can, light it off then cover to exclude air (kinda).

One way to find out ....


I'm not sure the process was that simple (to get pure Na). That was to make the first step of the Na extraction which was followed by a dioxane reflux, which is the more involved step IMO. reading on the YT page, people suggested using Al instead of Mg for the reaction and there were claims that it worked for both K and Na - take that for what you will, but I think NR was going to look into it as well.

edit: - unless it's possible for the heat of the Al to distill off the K/Na - which I'm guessing is probably possible but it's going to melt the containter if it is steel as the BP of the hydroxides are ~2400/2500F for K/Na respectively.

[Edited on 2-12-2017 by RogueRose]
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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 03:05


Quote: Originally posted by Foeskes  
I found I video by a Russian guy named "dr nitro crazy scientist" or something like that he used aluminium powder mixed with KOH to distill out potassium apparently it works with sodium as well.
2KOH + Al = K + KAlO2 + H2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5JdPQucTjjg


Thanks for that. I subscribed to his channel. I don't speak a word of Russian but the presentation was clear enough to follow really easily. It looks a lot like what Grant Thompson should be (and was before he went all commercial.)
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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 12:31


I think the problem with using aluminium in place of magnesium as Огненное ТВ has demonstrated, is that the reaction does not produce enough heat to drive itself forward, the advantage of using magnesium is that the atmospheric oxidation of magnesium is exothermic enough to drive any reaction forward.

I suspect that both metal reduction of alkali hydroxide reactions are endothermic not exothermic as we would suspect. I should probably get off my lazy ass and calculate the gibbs free energy for this.
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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 13:11


Quote: Originally posted by RogueRose  
I'm not sure the process was that simple (to get pure Na).

It isn't, however you Do get an Mg/Na agglomerate that is functionally equivalent in many reactions.

Refluxing with dioxane is hazardous, yet will separate out the Na if you need it to be pure metal.

Did anyone try the reaction with Al chips yet ?

No ? Feck. If nobody else is able/willing, guess it's my turn again.

Tomoz i'll try it using my fully equipped Lab, consisting of a Soup Tin and a Stone (to cover the soup tin during the reaction, if any).

In this experiment i must use the exotic and hard to obtain reagents called Bits-of-Aluminium and Caustic Soda, which may not be readily available everywhere on the planet.

Also the ability to make Fire will be required, making this a really difficult reaction for most.




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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 13:27


@aga i have tried it and it does not self sustain. not even when magnesium ribbin it burned and thrown in.
I used NaOH in a tuna can with my aluminium shavings however there may be more success with powder but i haven't got any powder till i get a ball mill set up.
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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 13:44


Nevertheless, try it shall i young FishWalker.

Edit :

Simply stating "i tried it" does not qualify in Science.

State the exact components, composition, the materials used, the reaction conditions, how you felt, what trousers you were wearing or it does not count for diddly.

Any Scientist would know that, Amateur or Pro.

[Edited on 2-12-2017 by aga]




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[*] posted on 2-12-2017 at 15:55


Ok fine, to a 95 net gram tuna tin was added roughly half a handful of aluminium shaving followed by a quarter handful of crushed sodium hydroxide (this was drain cleaner grade NaOH and likely contain 2% water) the contents of the tuna can were mixed thoroughly with a stainless steel spatula (the small ones you use in chem).
I then proceeded to heat directly with a blow torch (blow torch used a propane based fuel). There was a little bit of bubbling occurring and the sodium hydroxide was seem melting and the aluminium was clearly oxidizing however absolutely no sustainable reaction was seen taking place and as soon as i moved the flame away from the mixture, everything stopped. I had held the flame on the reactants for over about 2 minutes.

I then threw this into a bucket of water, no fire or reaction beyond a slight sizzle as the can was still hot. after a few second the aluminium began reacting with the aqueous base and producing hydrogen that bubbled up from the bottom of the bucket.

I then set up roughly the same quantity of reagents in another tuna can and instead heated 2, 30mm long magnesium ribbon peices until they began to burn and placed them into the can with the other reagents.
The magnesium twas seen to react slightly with the NaOH however this did not last long and the magnesium eventually burnt itself out.
No sustainable reaction took place.

It was roughly 29*c outside and i was wearing black shorts with a white stripe down the leg accompanied by a regrettably white shirt. I felt like i was decomposing under the intense UV light of the sun as would anybody who has experienced an NZ summer.

It seemed as though some reaction was taking place between the aluminium and NaOH however like i have stated this reaction peters out once the heat source is taken away.

[Edited on 3-12-2017 by Assured Fish]
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 09:07


A few metal/sodium hydroxide thermitey things were lamely attempted today.

Fist the stoi was assumed to 1:1 then the following metals, also some carbon, were weighed and mixed with NaOH flakes, idly mashed up, dumped in an empty soup tin then set alight (if possible) with some burning Mg ribbon :-

15.1g Mn + 11h NaOH (flakes)
15.0g C + 50.0g (fine powder)
7.7g Mg + 12.6g (shavings)
14.8g Zn + 9.0g (fine powder)
7.2g Sn + 2.5g (drilling twists)
14.2g Al + 21.0g (lathe turnings)
11.0g Cu + 7.0g (fine powder)

bits.jpg - 89kB

The Al version was heated for quite a while with a blowtorch, yet the reaction was not self-sustaining, precisely as Assured Fish previously stated.

al.jpg - 44kB

Only the Mg took off and burned under it's own steam, despite the rough nature of both reagents - neither was ground to a fine powder.

After each experiment the results were dumped out onto a terracotta slab.

At the end some water was dripped onto each residue to check for Na.

Amazingly the Al version did show sparks and flames, although that could have been due to the use of quite a lot of Mg ribbon to try to light it.

Edit:

The outdoor lab in the picture is aga's slab ;)

[Edited on 3-12-2017 by aga]




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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 09:37


Well, I can tell you from experience that magnalium/sodium hydroxide works, and produces a product that reacts with water. I can't tell if it's just the magnesium in it reacting though. I made some a few months ago and I tried to half-ass refining it by using terpentine instead of dioxane, and unsurprising it failed. I didn't take any pictures, but I can do it again and post some pictures.
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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 09:45


It's a shame the Al/NaOH-mix wasn't self sustaining. Thank you for your tests.

Could we get it to keep going by using thermite to reach the temperature? Although it could be hard containing that reaction. Molten NaOH and molten iron aren't so nice.
I would imagine the Na collecting at the top because of density.

When I get my thermite done, I'll try it.




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[*] posted on 3-12-2017 at 10:28


Mg + NaOH in a soup tin with a brick on top produces quite a bit of Na, just that it is trapped in the Magnesium/MgO/NaOH left over from the reaction.



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[*] posted on 4-12-2017 at 20:39


Quote: Originally posted by Foeskes  
I found I video by a Russian guy named "dr nitro crazy scientist" or something like that he used aluminium powder mixed with KOH to distill out potassium apparently it works with sodium as well.
2KOH + Al = K + KAlO2 + H2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5JdPQucTjjg



Does anyone speak Russian...........?

This guys little apparatus is genius. His technique is impressive.
Looks like fine Aluminium powder is the way to go

"PREPARATION OF POTASSIUM AND SODIUM IN HOME CONDITIONS"


/CJ

[Edited on 5-12-2017 by Corrosive Joeseph]




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[*] posted on 4-12-2017 at 21:19


Quote: Originally posted by Corrosive Joeseph  
Quote: Originally posted by Foeskes  
I found I video by a Russian guy named "dr nitro crazy scientist" or something like that he used aluminium powder mixed with KOH to distill out potassium apparently it works with sodium as well.
2KOH + Al = K + KAlO2 + H2

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5JdPQucTjjg



Does anyone speak Russian...........?

This guys little apparatus is genius. His technique is impressive.
Looks like fine Aluminium powder is the way to go

"PREPARATION OF POTASSIUM AND SODIUM IN HOME CONDITIONS"


/CJ

[Edited on 5-12-2017 by Corrosive Joeseph]


I don't speak Russian but I did watch the video and I think you can get the jist of it by watching.

He weighed out amounts of KOH and powdered Al, I'm guessing in stoichiometric amounts. It is placed in a steel CO2 cylinder as a crucible/boiling flask and a copper tube is used to direct the output from the cylinder into a glass tube.

He used a soup can to hold the CO2 cylinder in the proper orientation and maybe keep some heat in around the cylinder.

It looks like he lit the setup with a blowtorch (simple propane setup) applied directly to the CO2 cylinder. I'm still a little fuzzy as to how the reaction started inside as nothing was used to light it like Mg ribbon or wire (though it has been a couple days since I've seen the video and was distracted when watching it)
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