Hydro has 19 plants for remelting process scrap aluminium in Asia, America and Europe. Increasingly, we are now recycling in addition to remelting. In 2010 we produced more than a million tonnes of aluminium, of which 260 000 tonnes were recycled - from used and contaminated aluminium packaging, building products, vehicles and more. The company's strategy is to increase recycling significantly by 2020 - to around one million tonnes.
Plans to build a new recycling plant at Karmøy in Norway are part of this effort. One of the benefits of recycling is that it requires only five percent of the energy used to produce new aluminium. In addition, the sources of raw materials are usually close to the market and to one of Hydro's remelting plants. This provides major benefits such as reduced transport and has given rise to the term "urban mining."
- "To recycle as efficiently and profitably as possible may become a key competitive advantage for Hydro as an integrated aluminium company," says researcher Hans Ole Riddervold in Hydro.
- "Used materials come from many different sources, consist of a wide variety of alloys and the composition of scrap varies over time." How can we plan and manage this as efficiently and profitably as possible?
From "problem" to strength
To answer this question, Hydro started a new collaboration in 2011 with MIT in Cambridge in the United States. The research project builds on a 20-year partnership between the company and this recognized American research institution.
- "We have great faith in this project," says research director Helge Jansen in Hydro.
- "Among other things, we'll try to find out how 'problems' in the form of alloys can become an advantage in dealing with recycled materials.
Alloys have value
The large variation in the different alloys is a challenge. At the same time alloying materials such as silicon have a significant value that can be recovered if we are able to handle them in the best possible way.