Hydro is investing USD 20 million in U.S. company Verdox, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, commercialising an all-electric carbon removal technology applicable both for capturing emissions from aluminium production and directly from air.

“A key part of our sustainability ambitions is to reduce emissions from our aluminium smelters. Hydro is well placed to be an active shareholder and contribute competence and experience that will add value to Verdox. The cooperation will speed up the decarbonisation of our smelters,” says Eivind Kallevik, Executive Vice President of Aluminium Metal in Hydro.

Hydro and Verdox entered into a collaboration in early 2021. The technology has been tested to assess its applicability to capturing the CO2 in the off gas of Hydro’s primary aluminium smelter technology, and early results are very promising. The next phase of collaboration includes testing and piloting of the technology at Hydro’s aluminium smelters with the goal of reaching industrial scale by 2030. Following the USD 20 million investment, Hydro will have a minority ownership position.

Potential to capture both industrial off-gas emissions and removing CO2 directly from air

Verdox is commercialising an all-electric carbon capture technology that can capture carbon emissions both from industrial off-gas and directly from air. Where other carbon capture solutions rely on thermal, pressure or heating and cooling of liquid substances, Verdox’s technology is fully electric and expected to be highly energy efficient.

Illustration of how the technology will work. Verdox aluminium carbon capture technology will capture the CO2 in industrial offgas from Hydro’s aluminium smelters via electro swing adsobtion and make the CO2 available for storage. Where other carbon capture solutions rely on thermal, pressure or heating and cooling of liquid substances, Verdox’s technology is fully electric, enabling the system to run entirely on renewable energy and avoid further emissions.

Hydro’s studies have shown that capturing CO2 directly from the off-gas can eliminate most of the direct emissions from the aluminium smelting process. The remaining emissions can be removed through a direct air capture system connected to the plant.

Hydro has assessed more than 50 carbon-capture technologies and found very few that we expect will be applicable for aluminium production. Verdox’s technology has the advantage of being able to capture CO2 at very low concentrations both from industrial off-gas and directly from air

Eivind Kallevik, Executive Vice President of Aluminium Metal in Hydro

Most carbon capture technologies have been developed for capturing the off-gas from fossil power production and industries with higher concentrations of CO2, typically above 4%. The off-gas in aluminium smelters has a relatively low concentration of CO2 at around 1%.

Solving emissions from hard-to-abate industries

Aluminium is a crucial material in the green transition, and demand is expected to grow by about 70% by 2050, according to the International Aluminium Institute. At the same time, capturing the CO2 emissions from hard-to abate industrial sectors, including aluminium, is crucial to reach the Paris agreement 1.5 degree target.

“Hydro’s roadmap to zero-carbon aluminium production includes solutions both for existing and new aluminium capacity. Carbon capture such as the Verdox technology will ensure the continued competitiveness of our existing smelters, whereas our ground breaking new process technology, HalZero, will be developed for new capacity. In this way, we increase our chances of delivering on our climate ambitions and taking the lead in the aluminium industry,” says Kallevik.

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