Hydro produces recycled aluminium using green hydrogen

Hydro claims to have produced the world’s first successful batch of aluminium using green hydrogen as an energy source. The test is another step towards carbon-free aluminium.

Carbon-free green hydrogen replaced natural gas as fuel for the recycling of aluminium during the test. The test was carried out at a casthouse in Hydro’s extrusion plant in Navarra, Spain.

“We are excited to be conducting this test and it demonstrates Hydro’s commitment to decarbonisation. By removing the carbon emissions from the energy source, we will be able to produce carbon-free aluminium from recycling post-consumer scrap,” says Paul Warton, Executive Vice President for Hydro Extrusions.

The test was conducted and led by hydrogen experts from Hydro Havrand, Hydro’s green hydrogen company, in partnership with Fives, an industrial engineering group with expertise in hydrogen burner technology and solutions for the aluminium industry. 

Fives has contributed with design, and supplying of key components and controls needed to operate safely and effectively. 

“This test is part of developing commercial fuel switch solutions and to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used in aluminium production. Green hydrogen can remove hard to abate emissions from fossil fuels, in processes where electricity is not an alternative, both in the aluminium industry and in other heavy industries,” says Per Christian Eriksen, Head of Hydro Havrand.

Green hydrogen is one of the most promising emission free fuels to address the hard to abate industry emissions. 

In the aluminium industry, green hydrogen can replace fossil fuel used for high temperature heating processes. Hydrogen has previously been used in lab scale tests. 

The test in Navarra is the world’s first known successful industrial scale test of using hydrogen as an energy source in aluminium production. 

The aluminium produced in the test will be used in Hydro Extrusions’ Navarra facility to make the world’s first extruded profiles using hydrogen.

The test is providing new insights on fuel switch from natural gas to hydrogen and its effects on metal quality. Hydrogen behaves differently and burns at a different temperature than natural gas. The test is investigating how these differences affect the aluminium melting process and the aluminium quality. 

This is a necessary step on the path to maturing the fuel switch solutions of hydrogen in aluminium. The results from this test can also be relevant for using hydrogen in primary aluminium casthouses and in other high temperature processes, like glass or cement.

Hydro and Fives are analysing the test results, and a final report from the test is expected to be ready in the fall. Hydro Havrand will continue with building capabilities in the fuel switch to hydrogen, aiming to be the leading provider of industrial fuel switch solutions in green hydrogen.

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