By Hans Erik Vatne

The decarbonisation challenge represent opportunities for the aluminium industry and incentivises us to invest in innovative solutions to reduce our carbon footprint further.

Sustainability and reducing carbon footprints are key success criteria for any metal producer. These aspects are gaining increased focus and becoming more and more decisive for competitiveness among materials and businesses.

As some other materials have an easier way to decarbonisation, it is important for the aluminium industry that we step up our efforts in order to defend aluminium’s position as well as the industry’s huge investments in the upstream aluminium value chain.

Author, Hans Erik Vatne, SVP, Chief Technology Officer, Corporate Development, Norsk Hydro (right)

Decarbonisation throughout the value chain

Hydro has a clear technology ambition to enable volumes of near-zero aluminium by 2030. By near-zero we mean aluminium products with less than 0.5 kg CO2 per kg aluminium throughout the whole value chain. This will be achieved through R&D and piloting up to industrially relevant size pilots. We pursue three main paths towards zero carbon aluminium; (i) Path 1: Decarbonised Bayer process and carbon capture and storage (CCS) for existing smelters, (ii) Path 2: Decarbonised Bayer process and development of Hydro’s proprietary HalZero technology for greenfield smelters and (iii) Path 3: Recycling of post-consumer scrap with decarbonised operations. To get all the way to zero carbon aluminium we are also exploring ways to decarbonise our casthouse operations.

Recycling of post-consumer scrap

There is also a circular path to near-zero aluminium, which is the fastest way to market. Hydro has the most advanced recycling technology and metallurgy competence in the industry. This enables us to produce Hydro Circal – a low carbon product with a certified recycled content of more than 75% post-consumer scrap. We could produce this with 100% post-consumer scrap even today, buying clean and sorted scrap, but doing this in a profitable way requires digging deeper into the scrap pile of difficult, unsorted and contaminated scrap.

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