This package addresses the element with an atomic number of 13 (Al) as aluminum. This is because the featured standards were published by the American Welding Society. In the United States and Canada, the predominant spelling of the metal is “aluminum”, but this is not common throughout the globe. Standards like ONORM EN 576:2004: Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Unalloyed aluminium ingots for remelting – Specifications, SS-EN 13920-2:2003: Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Scrap – Part 2: Unalloyed aluminium scrap, and BS EN 15530:2008: Aluminium and aluminium alloys. Environmental aspects of aluminium products. General guidelines for their inclusion in standards all refer to Al as “aluminium”, as they are from Austria, Sweden, and Britain, respectively. Even we have acknowledged the potential variation of spelling of aluminum or aluminium in the past.
Neither spelling is technically incorrect, since one version is incorporated in American English, while the other is in British English, two intelligible languages that have some variation with one another. One might imagine that aluminium is the original form, and it was merely changed by Americans, similar to the dropping of the letter “u” in words like “colour”. However, this might not be a valid claim. Luckily, there is actually a pretty clear answer to this that might be able to settle any arguments on the words’ origins.
According to the World Etymology Dictionary, in 1808, English chemist Sir Humphry Davy originally called Al “alumium”. He took this from the word alumina, which had been given to aluminum/aluminium oxide at the time and was derived from the Latin alumen, meaning “bitter salt”. The original spelling of the element, alumium, isn’t even used today, so neither contemporary version can claim that title. However, Davy did later amend this to aluminum. It wasn’t until four years later, in 1812, when British editors further amended the word to aluminium, since it better harmonized with the pronunciation of other elements, such as sodium and potassium. It is clear that aluminum actually came first by a few years, but it was not as greatly-incorporated into language as the English-edited aluminium.
One of the most significant events involving aluminum/aluminium was the development of a low cost manufacturing process in 1886 that started the company that eventually became Alcoa Aluminum. When aluminum was used to cap the Washington Monument in 1884, it was the world’s most expensive metal. Today, like steel, aluminum/aluminium is an inexpensive and widely-used metal in structural support and fulfilling other material needs.