That’s a wrap! The Greener Aluminium Online Summit came to a close on the 7th September. The one-day, online event hosted a number of presentations from key industry players, and leading experts. The summit saw 100+ attendees at the event.
This year, the attention turned towards the announcement of the world’s first batch of recycled aluminium using hydrogen fuelled production, the shift towards producing carbon-free aluminium is experiencing exciting new developments.
The Summit invited industry representatives to join virtually to discuss how the industry must continue to adapt, minimising the impacts associated with production of the metal today, while also developing technological pathways for the future.
In a welcome by Nadine Bloxsome, Editor of Aluminium International Today, attendees were informed that it will be the final time, as we plan to incorporate this Greener Summit with the Future Aluminium Forum due to take place in Istanbul in May 2024.
Since its inception in 2018, the Future Aluminium Forum has focused on the challenges of implementing digitalisation and technologies associated with Industry 4.0 such as Digital Twins, the Industrial Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Sustainability goes hand in hand with development and digitalisation, which is why we will be creating a dedicated focus for sustainable developments at the next Future Aluminium Forum.
Speaking First, were Mario Chueca, Casthouse manager at Hydro Extrusion Navarra and Martin Strande, Hydro Havrand at Head of technology qualification. Hydrogen is a huge topic of conversation in the aluminium industry. With the multiple challenges faced with decarbonising the industry, hydrogen presents itself as a possible solution. However, Martin Strande highlighted that although "The world is currently not on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, and it is urgent to reduce emissions in the aluminium sector. We do however understand that this cannot jeopardize what is fundamentally at the core of our business, namely, the quality of the final aluminium product." Mr Strande went onto discuss the recent achievements at Hydro Havrand and their recent findings, which favoured the implementation of hydrogen as the outcomes of their tests produced positive results.
A panel session, hosted by Novelis, took place next with speakers: Vinicius Silva, Vice President, Global Engineering, Energy, Maintenance, Reliability and Automation (EMRA) at Novelis and Todd Ashton, Senior Manager, Sustainability Innovation & Energy Reduction and Sustainable Engineering (ERASE) at Novelis, who discussed ‘Clean energy and technologies needed to decarbonise our operations’. The session, moderated by Natalia Freeman, Manager, Global Strategic and Commercial Communications, looked at the purpose of EMRA and ERASE in Novelis’ transition to a more sustainable production. Closing the panel discussion, Vinicius Silva said “Novelis is fully committed to decarbonising, however [for the aluminium industry] it is not just one solution fits all, it’s all hands-on deck. We need collaboration … We need to keep innovating!” He continued that despite these challenges “I am very confident that we will get there.” Todd added that the “path will be complicated, and there isn’t any one technology that will help us get there… but I am confident that we will reach the targets for 2050.”
Next, Karyna Young, CEO, ENPOT spoke about her role and the role of ENPOT in decarbonising the aluminium industry. In the candid Q&A, hosted by Nadine Bloxsome, Karyna Young spoke about her her route into the industry. Karyna rounded up the key milestones and goals for the next few years at ENPOT: “Our company is essentially a technology company at its core, evolution is at our core… we want to make use of all the knowledge and data we have, as well as use software to optimise operational efficiency.”
After a networking break, Andreas Hake, General Manager / Owner at Oberländer Recycling Maschinen GmbH, spoke on ‘Closing the loop in production by processing scrap and off-grade material for internal recycling’. Mr Hake discussed the various simple processing plants, especially for the aluminium industry, which feed recyclable materials back into the internal raw material cycle. He noted the importance of recycling aluminium in the decarbonisation of the industry, noting it is key to sustainable production. He also went onto discuss how ORM work with their customers to find a solution designed for their needs, presenting numerous case studies on ORM collaborative projects.
The penultimate presentation was presented by Jerome Lucaes, CEO, Fast Forward Zero. With a vast history in the aluminium industry, Mr Lucaes spoke on ‘Transforming business strategies to align with sustainable goals and targets’. In his presentation he investigated the alternative fuels available to the industry, weighing up the pros and cons of electrical sources and hydrogen, as well as discussing ways to combat the barriers in front of these possible solutions. He went onto challenge alternative aluminium processes and prompted for the industry to look to other methods of decarbonising their companies, rather than relying on new, young, and not yet ready technology. Jerome Lucaes concluded that “this is a long journey that has just started, decarbonising electricity is the key challenges, and the technology we need is not ready. However, the industry understands the challenge and is working hard”. Finishing positively, the industry must remain hopeful.
Closing the Greener Aluminium Forum was Geoff Matthews, Event Director and Partner, Sustainable Industrial Manufacturing Asia Pacific. In his evoking and perhaps controversial presentation, Geoff challenged the key players, voices, and names across the industry. Mr Matthews said, “the aluminium industry is incredibly slow to decarbonise [in comparison to competing industries].” He went on to claim that despite aluminium’s positives, “aluminium is at risk of becoming a toxic material.” In his presentation, he called for the industry to make and follow through with big decisions, and to not delay. He also said that companies should look to alternative short-term solutions to prepare for long term solutions. He finalised stating “the world doesn’t owe us a favour, … and thank you to those out there who, every day, try to make a difference”.
As mentioned, this year’s summit will be the last in this virtual format. Making a strong comeback in May 23, the Future Aluminium Forum (FAF) returned to the stage. Set to return in 2024, the Greener Aluminium Summit will be joining this live platform! FAF 24 will be hosted in Istanbul, Turkey in association with TALSAD.