🇳🇴 Hydro moves to decarbonize casthouses by testing plasma technology with global potential

January 12, 2024
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a city next to a body of water

With the testing of emission-free plasma technology in the casthouse at Sunndal, Hydro is pursuing its goal to achieve zero CO2 emissions in aluminium production. Hydro has been granted soft funding from the Norwegian Government for a project that could have global impact on hard-to-abate industries.

 

Hydro moves to decarbonize casthouses by testing plasma technology with global potential

With the testing of emission-free plasma technology in the casthouse at Sunndal, Hydro is pursuing its goal to achieve zero CO2 emissions in aluminium production. Hydro has been granted soft funding from the Norwegian Government for a project that could have global impact on hard-to-abate industries.

Re-melting aluminium into new products requires extremely high temperatures, an energy intensive process which is hard to achieve without fossil energy in the form of natural gas. However, new plasma technology will enable electrification of the process, using the same renewable energy that powers 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.

Hydro aims to melt the first aluminium with near zero emissions from the casthouse at Sunndal in the fourth quarter of 2025. The pilot will reduce carbon emissions by over 500 tonnes annually, but the global potential for reducing emissions from aluminium casthouses and recyclers is about 11 million tonnes of CO2. Enova, an enterprise established by the Norwegian Government to facilitate the transition to a low-emission society, has granted NOK 39.6 million in support of the project.

Hydro’s path to zero

Hydro’s goal is to achieve zero emissions in the entire aluminium value chain by 2050. Hydro Sunndal, Europe’s largest and most modern aluminium plant, also serves as test site for capturing carbon emissions from the existing electrolysis. In the fall of 2023, Hydro also decided to invest in a test facility in Porsgrunn to further develop HalZero, an entirely new technology for primary aluminium production that will 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.

Facts about the plasma technology

  • Plasma is called “the fourth state of matter” after solid, liquid and gas. The gases become electrically conductive through the addition of energy, which makes it possible to achieve temperatures far higher than 5000°C.
  • Within the plasma torch, an electric arc is formed which heats the metal in the furnace by means of radiation and convection.
  • The pilot will replace the current burner based on natural gas with a plasma burner in an existing industrial scale furnace at the Sunndal test center, a R&D test center for alloy development, testing and technology development.

 


Originally published on 11 January by Hydro.

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