What is an aluminum duct?

Clothes dryer for home with aluminum duct.

An aluminum duct is a passageway made of aluminum that is primarily used to move air, such as in air conditioning or heating systems, along a structure or building. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts are typically made of aluminum. Aluminum ducts are also used with home dryer systems; As aluminum does not rust, this type of duct is perfect for removing hot, humid air from the dryer. Plumbing can be flexible or rigid, and sometimes fiberglass insulation is added for better thermal control.

Aluminum ducts benefit from the light weight and durability of aluminum.

The history of aluminum dates back to 1854, when American chemist Charles M. Hall developed a method for extracting large amounts of aluminum from a mined substance known as bauxite. His method is used today to produce almost all the aluminum in the world. Aluminum ducts benefit from the natural qualities of aluminium, namely its lightness and its natural resistance to corrosion. As it is non-ferrous, aluminum does not rust.

The most common use of aluminum ductwork is in the heating and air conditioning industry. Flexible and rigid ducting is often used to direct air conditioning into a house or building. Aluminum duct is used because of its high strength-to-weight ratio – a very light section of rigid duct can be traversed great distances without the need for support. Its flexible shape is used due to the elongation ability of aluminum; a flexible aluminum duct can be bent hundreds of times and still maintain an airtight cavity. The insulated forms of both can be used to minimize heat transfer between the contents and the environment, making HVAC systems more efficient.

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Another very common use of aluminum duct is as a drying duct. Clothes dryers use high heat to dry clothes, converting the water contained in the clothes into water vapor, which is then vented outside the home. Aluminum duct is commonly used in this application because of its corrosion resistance. A duct can carry moist air for many years without the threat of rust. The cost of these aluminum ducts is generally low due to the small diameter of the duct required.

As aluminum duct can be rigid or flexible, installation is usually quite simple. Hard drives can be supported by metal or plastic straps attached to the frame itself, or can be mounted directly to a surface using large brackets. Flexible duct sections can be supported on an uneven surface or hung with metal or plastic tape. As aluminum ducts maintain an airtight cavity, they do not need to be supported in a way that maintains a straight line of delivery.

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