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Hydro aims to change the game for aluminium production

Hydro Tests Emission-Free Plasma Technology

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Autor: Birgit Schmunk

Datum: 18. Jan. 2024

January 18, 2024 | Hydro is advancing its commitment to achieving zero CO2 emissions in aluminium production by testing emission-free plasma technology in the Sunndal casthouse.

This move is part of Hydro’s broader goal to decarbonize casthouses, addressing the challenges of high-temperature processes required for re-melting aluminium into new products. The innovative plasma technology facilitates the electrification of this energy-intensive process, utilizing renewable energy sources that already power Hydro’s primary smelters.

“We aim to change the game for aluminium production. Plasma technology is both high tech and future oriented. If we succeed with the pilot project at Sunndal it will not only affect the aluminium industry, but also other hard-to-abate industries worldwide,” says Eivind Kallevik, Executive Vice President for Hydro Aluminium Metal.

Government-Funded Project may have Global Impact

Hydro has secured soft funding from the Norwegian Government for this project, recognizing its potential to revolutionize emission reduction efforts.

The pilot project at Sunndal, expected to melt the first aluminium with near-zero emissions in the fourth quarter of 2025, anticipates a significant reduction of over 500 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. However, the global potential for emission reduction in aluminium casthouses and recyclers is estimated at about 11 million tonnes of CO2.

Enova, a Norwegian Government enterprise facilitating the transition to a low-emission society, has provided NOK 39.6 million in support for the project.

Hydro’s Sunndal Pilot Project Aims for Near-Zero Emissions by 2025

Hydro’s broader commitment to achieving zero emissions across the entire aluminium value chain by 2050 includes initiatives at its Sunndal plant, Europe’s largest and most modern aluminium facility. The site serves as a testing ground for capturing carbon emissions from existing electrolysis processes. Additionally, Hydro has invested in a test facility in Porsgrunn to develop HalZero, a new technology for primary aluminium production, aiming to eliminate carbon emissions from both electrolysis and anode baking.

“We are working closely with Europe’s most demanding customers to help them achieve their climate ambitions through the use of low-carbon and recycled aluminium. We are proud to offer aluminium based on renewable energy and with 75 percent lower carbon footprint than the global average,” says Kallevik.

Plasma technology, characterized as “the fourth state of matter,” achieves extremely high temperatures, surpassing 5000°C, by making gases electrically conductive. The plasma torch, featuring an electric arc, heats the metal in the furnace through radiation and convection. The pilot project at Sunndal involves replacing the current natural gas-based burner with a plasma burner in an existing industrial-scale furnace, located at the Sunndal test center, dedicated to alloy development, testing, and technology advancement.

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(Source: Hydro/2024)