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Case studies / Friction
The green alternative to the alumina industry
Roots from plants can absorb the ionic species of metals such as aluminium in acid soils

Al2O is a standard abrasive used in friction materials to increase the coefficient of friction and keep clean the rotor surface. It derives however in aluminium contamination when in service, aluminum oxide is released to the environment. Roots from plants can absorb the ionic species of metals such as aluminium in acid soils, which has a clear environmental impact, including the growth of these plants due to the bioaccumulation capacity of this element. Furthermore, there are also articles suggesting a possible connection between the increase of the concentration of  Al3+ ions in the environment due to human activity and some neurotoxic diseases in human beings

Ironically, the increase in the use of the “green” metal can bring massive disruption to the supply chain

It is considered like that, as among other reasons, it is a key material to reduce weight. However, China is the largest producer of aluminum and Alumina, and uses mainly coal for power. The worrying increase of smog and airborne particulate matter has forced China to boot on his “blue skies” politics, which will cut the production up to 30 %, due to its enormous environmental impact, which would derive in a massive disruption of the supply chain

Zirconium compounds are getting more and more applications as abrasives in friction industry and, despite their usual higher cost, do not present the previously commented hazards (data provided by Zircon Industry Association).

They can come from natural, like the zirconium silicate, or synthetic origin, like the zirconium oxide. Moreover, Zircon Industry Association (ZIA) reveals the lower environmental impact of zircon products in comparison with Al2O3

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