Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

Holy Aluminum‽

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
Holy Aluminum‽
Post by Salisria   » Sun Oct 16, 2022 8:53 pm

Salisria
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2022 5:08 am

Yes, I know aluminum isn't mentioned at all in the Safehold books to date. Obviously, the Hall–Héroult process isn't available to the colonists, but those aren't the only potential sources for the metal. First off, once produced, aluminum can be recycled without the use of electricity. Secondly, there are non-electrical processes for producing aluminum that I think would be within Charisian capability. Initially those processes were extremely expensive, but by the time the Hall–Héroult process was developed, the cost had been reduced to the point that aluminum was only slightly more expensive than silver instead of being more expensive than gold as it was initially.

My first point is that back in pre-rakurai days, I could see the archangels providing aluminum to the colonists either without telling them how it could be produced within their allowed technology, or making those processes some sort of holy ritual. A strong light metal beyond ordinary human ability to make, but within human ability to manipulate is something I could see the archangels using to make holy objects for distribution to ordinary humans.

However, since we have no evidence they did so, let me now focus on whether aluminum could show up in a future book. Probably not, at least not as anything other than a luxury. It could conceivably have some use as aircraft structural framing, but it would be extremely expensive. Possibly we could see it put to use if Charis builds an airplane as a technology demonstrator, but I don't see it unless they can get the cost down to something closer to copper than silver (which never happened historically before the Hall–Héroult process was developed) so that someone else could conceivably build it.

So yeah, I just wasted time discussing something we are extremely unlikely to see in the series.
Top
Re: Holy Aluminum‽
Post by L0ngrange   » Thu Oct 27, 2022 5:12 am

L0ngrange
Midshipman

Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2022 4:51 am

Aluminum is not that hard to refine and produce in large quantities even without electricity, it is just very expensive. Requires some rather refined materials (sodium carbonate) where the material is disolved at 1200°C and then grown into crystals that are then collected and melted into the final product. That is at high pressure, high heat. The final batch can then be further refined with some more cemicals and some CO2. This process was used until about 1923.
Top
Re: Holy Aluminum‽
Post by mhicks   » Wed Jan 04, 2023 3:58 pm

mhicks
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 92
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:53 am
Location: WA

Thinking about the cost and difficulty of producing large quantities without the use of electricity, maybe Aluminum is a trigger to the platform waking up. It is scanning the concentration of aluminum in an area, or seeing if it is floating in the air as a signal that humans are breaking the proscriptions and need to be punished.

I do like your thought that Aluminum could be seen as a Holy metal. Strong and light and malleable yet not found in nature.
Top
Re: Holy Aluminum‽
Post by Salisria   » Thu Jan 05, 2023 12:52 pm

Salisria
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2022 5:08 am

mhicks wrote:Thinking about the cost and difficulty of producing large quantities without the use of electricity, maybe Aluminum is a trigger to the platform waking up. It is scanning the concentration of aluminum in an area, or seeing if it is floating in the air as a signal that humans are breaking the proscriptions and need to be punished.

I do like your thought that Aluminum could be seen as a Holy metal. Strong and light and malleable yet not found in nature.


Since elemental aluminum is something that would not be expected to be around in reasonably detectable quantities prior to electricity, and that it's not implausible that it could be developed as a luxury good if a non-electric method of production were discovered, I doubt elemental aluminum detection would be a search parameter for a monitoring AI.

If the rakurai system is looking for aluminum at all, it'll probably be looking for the residues of solid rocket fuel (SRF) use. (The most commonly used SRF today is a mixture of powdered aluminum as fuel and ammonium perchlorate as oxidizer, though whether that's the best option for SRF in a non-electric society is debatable, and beyond my knowledge level to debate.)
Top
Re: Holy Aluminum‽
Post by Salisria   » Thu Jan 05, 2023 7:12 pm

Salisria
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2022 5:08 am

Did a little digging. It appears that replacing the powdered aluminum in SRF with powdered magnesium might be a good choice. While magnesium is often produced using electricity, there are economically competitive non-electric methods, so obtaining it can be done without violating the proscriptions as far as we know.
Top

Return to Safehold