If we use aluminium to make lighter forms of transport and more energy efficient buildings, the numbers in fact back up the claim. That is why we focus on it.
In 2008, Hydro developed a comprehensive climate strategy. This strategy made it clear that both the company and aluminium as a material have a climate profile we can stand by. The biggest challenge is the energy used in the production of new metal. In other words, there is significant room for improvement in production technology.
Aluminium is much lighter
The metal's properties mean that aluminium is already an environmental winner. Aluminium is lighter than comparable materials. It therefore reduces energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases when it is used in transportation. Aluminium used in packaging has the same effect - in addition to the metal's other positive properties. Hydro is also working actively to develop carbon-neutral buildings by using its own advanced façade systems. We have begun to use several buildings that as a result of these systems are either carbon neutral or produce more energy than they use.
A calculation to ponder
The following simple calculation shows how we can achieve net energy savings by using aluminium to reduce the weight of a vehicle by 100 kg. We replace 200 kg of steel parts in a car with 100 kg of aluminium parts - which are made from primary aluminium. The weight reduction can lower fuel consumption by about 0.05 liters per 10 km. If the car drives 15 000 km per year for ten years, fuel consumption is reduced by about 750 liters.
This is equivalent to 7 500 kWh of energy. Producing the aluminium for weight reduction uses 2 000 kWh more than what is required for steel. So this number must be subtracted from the energy savings of 7 500 kWh to end up with a net savings of 5 500 kWh.
85 percent is recycled
When we take into account that about 85 percent of the aluminium used in vehicles is recycled, we see that the real energy savings will be substantially higher. Aluminium is easy to remelt without losing any properties. Remelting requires only five percent of the energy used to produce aluminium for the first time. In fact, 75 percent of everything produced since the aluminium industry was born over 100 years ago, is still in use. Hydro is committed to ensuring that the energy used never disappears, by remelting the metal in the most efficient way when that time comes. This can be done again and again. Therefore Hydro is raising its ambitions in recycling - to a million tonnes annually by 2020.
Hydro is contributing to increasing recycling through collection initiatives in several European countries. An increasing proportion of our research and development is geared to meet the challenges of climate change, including the emphasis on recycling-friendly alloys, lighter vehicle parts and new applications for solar energy in more climate-friendly buildings.