European Commission: New Aluminium Technology Could Make Production Cleaner, More Efficient

European Commission: New Aluminium Technology Could Make Production Cleaner, More Efficient
EU flags in front of the Berlaymont building, head office of the European Commission. Source: Wikimedia

Utilizing new technology now under development could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) production in the aluminium industry by two-thirds and energy consumption by over one-fifth in 2050 according to a report released yesterday by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. Achievable reductions for primary aluminium production in the intervening years may be higher, according to the report, with reductions in GHG emissions of almost three-quarters and an increase in energy efficiency of almost one-quarter.

The report uses data collected from the status of the aluminium industry in EU28 countries and Iceland. JRC studied existing aluminium smelters and how they operated. The researchers also examined technologies now in development in the EU, including the use of dynamic AC magnetic fields, wetted drained cathodes, inert anodes or carbon capture and storage (CCS).

According to the data, the described reduction levels can be achieved that are now in the first stages of research. The report suggests that efforts should be made by member governments to implement policies that foster further research and development of the technologies in question, as well as efforts to make these technologies commercially viable.

The report and research done to support it bolsters the European Commission’s 2015 Energy Union package. The package points out the continuing need for EU member countries to fund and otherwise encourage new technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and inert anode technology (in the aluminium production process) in order to achieve upcoming climate targets in a cost-effective manner.

The total output of aluminium by the EU in 2013 was approximately 8.9 million metric tons. The EU imported 3.3 million metric tons of aluminium ingots and remelted 6.1 million metric tons that year. Primary aluminium production was roughly 4.2 million metric tons, with recycled aluminium making up the remaining 4.7 million metric tons of production.