Aluminium or aluminum (in North American English) is a chemical element in the boron group with symbol Al and atomic number 13. It is a silvery-white, soft, nonmagnetic, ductile metal. Aluminium is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (after oxygen and silicon) and its most abundant metal. Aluminium makes up about 8% of the crust by mass, though it is less common in the mantle below. Aluminium metal is so chemically reactive that native specimens are rare and limited to extreme reducing environments. Instead, it is found combined in over 270 different minerals. The chief ore of aluminium is bauxite.
Aluminium is remarkable for the metal’s low density and its ability to resist corrosion through the phenomenon of passivation. Aluminium and its alloys are vital to the aerospace industry and important in transportation and structures, such as building facades and window frames. The oxides and sulfates are the most useful compounds of aluminium.
Despite its prevalence in the environment, no known form of life uses aluminium salts metabolically, but aluminium is well tolerated by plants and animals. Because of their abundance, the potential for a biological role is of continuing interest and studies continue.