Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
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I'd known there was a Cryolite mine in Greenland during WWII. Been searching for information on the American troops stationed there to protect the mine. Coast Guard?
Greenland was the only major source of cryolite anywhere in the world. The mine is now closed although some stock-piled ore is still being exported.
The mineral was used as a solvent for the aluminium-rich ore bauxite which is a combination of various oxides of aluminium.
It is difficult to separate atoms of aluminium and oxygen during smelting, to produce pure liquid aluminium. The addition of cryolite in the process acts as a flux and cuts in half the temperature required to obtain aluminum. The savings in energy expenditure, and money spent, are considerable. The mineral was considered so strategic during World War II that American troops were stationed in Greenland to protect the mines.
Cryolite is now too rare for general commercial use and has been largely replaced by synthetic sodium aluminium fluoride.