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Hydro and SGL Group to develop next generation cathode technology

Hydro and SGL Group have launched a three-year project aiming to tap further energy saving potentials in the primary aluminum production process. Building on each other’s technological strengths and know-how, the companies are joining forces to develop a new cathodic solution for this purpose.

  • Launch of three-year project, funded by The Research Council of Norway’s ENERGIX program
  • Hydro and SGL partnering in the development of cathode technology
  • Potential for significant energy savings in future primary aluminium production

Using novel materials and a new electrolysis cell design, the solution will enable a significant reduction of the anode-cathode distance, one of the main drivers of energy consumption. If proven successful, the new cathode technology may lead to substantial energy savings in primary aluminum production.

Part of a technical cooperation, which SGL Group and Hydro initially started in 2012, the project will receive funding from The Research Council of Norway's ENERGIX program.

“Reduction of the energy consumption is important both from a cost perspective and for the environment. In order to reduce the energy consumption further, new technology elements are required. Together with SGL, one of the world's leading manufacturers of carbon-based products, we aim to develop new cathodic solutions which make further reduction in energy consumption possible,” says Johannes Aalbu, Head of Technology development in the Primary Metal business area in Hydro.

“With our joint development project with Hydro, one of the global leaders in primary smelting technology, we further enhance our position in providing cathodic solutions for the aluminum industry. The project also demonstrates the great economic potential of customized solutions as well as the recognition of SGL as technology innovative and competent partner,” says Klaus Unterharnscheidt, Chairman of the Business Unit Performance Products at SGL Group.

In the coming years, global aluminum demand is expected to grow by 4-6% per year. Especially the increasing demand in emerging countries, as well as in and around the Middle East, will drive this growth. Energy is one of the key cost drivers in the primary aluminium industry, with energy costs representing roughly 1/3 of the total production cost. Cathodes are an integral part of the electrolytic cells, conducting the electricity required for the production process.

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