Part 3: Chapter 6 – It Is Not Possible
While Tor was drinking with Rokuk at the bar, Euphie and Mailey were in Magitec Master Coen’s workshop.
As she gazed up at the setting sun, Mailey mused on how fortunate it was that they were currently in the magitec city of Fangaro.
Fangaro was a city that didn’t sleep. Magitec lamps illuminated the streets, and guards patrolled the area for every hour of the day, in case the magitec beasts attacked.
And now, they were in the workshop of the famed Magitec Master.
“So, how will you acquire the aluminum?”
Coen asked them, her notebook in one hand.
Euphie got to her feet and began to line up the tools they would need.
(It’s a good thing that there is a furnace in order to cast the Golem parts.)
(Euphie, is there a retort?)
Mailey’s thought went flying.
A retort was an instrument for distillation, in which an experimental sample is placed in a sphere and heated, and the sample, which has become steam, is cooled through a beak shaped tube at the top of the sphere to extract the liquefied substance.
Euphie searched the shelves and took out an iron retort.
(I have secured one)
(That as well)
(I will start explaining it to Ms. Coen. So you handle the rest)
(Leave it to me)
While Euphie gathered the ingredients, Mailey started to explain to Coen.
“What we were considering when Mr. Tor was here was the Hall-Heroult process. It is the most popular method of refining aluminum on the Earth world. Before it was introduced, aluminum was a more expensive metal than gold.”
As Mailey explained, aluminum had been a very expensive metal.
Aluminum, whose usefulness had been noticed by Napoleon III, has a very strong connection with oxygen. It is also this aluminum oxide that is contained in bauxite, and its melting point is 2,000 degrees.
Electrolytic refining was also difficult until the invention of the Hall-Heroult process, which uses cryolite to lower the temperature to 1,000 degrees.
So, how was aluminum obtained before the Hall-Heroult process?
As Mailey raised her index finger, Yuffie, who had finished preparing for the experiment, eagerly opened her mouth.
“If aluminum doesn’t melt, let’s reduce it by electrolytically refining sodium.”
“Let’s just acquire sodium without using electricity”
“…I see that you two have rather amusing personalities.”
While she looked a little exasperated, Coen questioned them with a smile.
“Was it possible to electrolytically refine sodium?”
“The difficulty of the electrolytic refining of aluminum lies in its high melting point. In contrast, sodium has a low melting point. If you dissolve salt, electrorefining is possible.”
And then Mailey continued.
“Do you know about ionization tendency?”
“It’s the ease of oxidation, isn’t it?”
As she was searching for aluminum, Coen had knowledge of lost items. It seemed that she was able to follow the twins’ talk of science to some extent.
Mailey, who was having some fun, as she was now able to talk with someone who understood her other than Tor, nodded repeatedly.
“That’s right. And sodium has a greater ionization tendency than aluminum. In other words, aluminum can be reduced.”
“I understand what you mean.”
Coen wrote down the main points in her notebook and then opened her mouth.
“If that Tor fellow can electrolytically refine sodium, there’s a high possibility that the aluminum reduced with it won’t be imbued with magic energy.”
Coen laughed faintly, probably because she was happy that her troubles may be at an end.
However, the twins partially denied Coen’s idea.
“As you say, you can get standalone aluminum that’s not imbued with magic energy.”
“However, Mr. Tor is essential for electrolytic refining.”
“If you’re thinking about the future, you should acquire sodium without relying on Mr. Tor.”
“There’s another way. I can hire Tor for life…”
When Coen tried to offer this solution, Yuffie and Mailey interrupted her in unison.
“We will not give Mr. Tor to you.”
With a wry smile, Coen withdrew her proposal.
“So, what are the specific steps?”
When Coen returned to the main subject, Yuffie placed the iron retort in front of her.
“I’m going to distill sodium carbonate and charcoal powder with this.”
“French scientists acquired sodium in this way.”
Yuffie put a mixture of kelp ash and charcoal into the retort, and pressed it into Coen’s hands.
“We can acquire sodium for reduction with this. The real problem is the aluminum.”
“But there’s aluminum oxide?”
So saying, Coen looked at the bauxite, but Mailey shook her head.
“What we’ll use is aluminum chloride. But it is rather difficult.”
“The procedure involves dissolving bauxite with concentrated sodium hydroxide to obtain aluminum hydroxide, and then washing it with water.”
“I already have concentrated sodium hydroxide on hand, so I can start working on it right away.”
Concentrated sodium hydroxide ordered from the alchemist’s workshop had been delivered to the workshop earlier.
Mailely continued her explanation while arranging bauxite and concentrated sodium hydroxide on the desk.
“With the Bayer process, aluminum hydroxide is heated to 1,200 degrees to obtain aluminum oxide. But I want aluminum chloride this time, so I’m going to dissolve it with hydrochloric acid.”
She explained and then glanced over to the furnace.
If the electrolytic refining of aluminum was carried out by Tor, they would heat the aluminum hydroxide in a furnace until it became aluminum oxide.
Mailey turned her eyes back from the furnace to Cohen.
“We will dissolve the aluminum hydroxide in hydrochloric acid and heat it in order to concentrate it.”
“What is produced by this method is aluminum chloride hexahydrate. However, since it is sensitive to heat, the hydrogen chloride escapes, and there are cases where hydroxyl groups cannot be removed and remain.”
“So, in order to make aluminum chloride, I want to slowly lower the temperature, and if possible, reduce the pressure so that the hydrogen chloride does not escape.”
She stopped once here, and waited for Cohen to write it down in her notebook. Then she continued.
“The obtained aluminum chloride hexahydrate will be heated to remove moisture, and we’ll obtain the aluminum chloride.”
“It also reacts to moisture in the air, so be careful when heating.”
“The sodium will react with the obtained aluminum chloride to reduce it, and we’ll obtain sodium chloride and aluminum.”
“These are the steps.”
After the explanation was finished, Yuffie and Mailey reached for the arranged instruments and reagents, and smiled.
“You will likely fail a lot, but then you’ll succeed one day. I’m sure of it.”