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Developing carbon capture and storage technology for aluminium smelters

To speed decarbonization of the aluminium industry and make our existing aluminium smelters fit for the future, Hydro is developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions that can be retrofitted into aluminium plants already in operation.

Hydro is helping pave the way in reducing climate impact, cutting carbon emissions from the primary aluminium plants in Norway by 70% between 1990 and 2020. Technological advances in primary aluminium production, such as carbon capture and storage, will be key to achieving Hydro's sustainability goals. Pictured is Hydro's aluminium plant at Sunndal in Western Norway. Photo: Hydro


The off-gas in aluminium smelters has a relatively low concentration of CO2, at approximately- 1%. So far, 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%. In addition to the low concentration of CO2, the off-gas from aluminium smelting contains some pollutants that challenge compatibility with existing capture technologies.  

Further development 

Further development is needed, and Hydro has evaluated more than 50 CCS technologies and developed a roadmap for testing and piloting the most promising ones up to industrial scale. The goal is to have an industrial-scale pilot running by 2030.  

Studies have shown that off-gas capture may be a viable option to capture most of the CO2 from an aluminium smelter, even if dimensioning, power needs and operational costs will increase towards a 100% capture rate. In addition, and as a supplement, Hydro is exploring options for direct air capture (DAC) units at its smelters. For some capture technologies, this has the advantage that process heat can be recovered for use in the DAC unit, lowering power demand and operational costs.   

In parallel, Hydro is working on developing solutions that can be retrofitted onto existing electrolysis cells to make them capture ready. 


To reach its ambitious climate targets, Hydro is working with several technology providers to develop solutions for off-gas capture and direct air capture while working to understand the future market for CO2 management in Europe. The ambition is to have an industrial-scale pilot up and running before 2030.