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Hydro has the world’s most carbon-friendly aluminium production plant

Published 19 Dec 2022 (updated 29 Apr 2024) · 3 min read

Quick information

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At a glance

  • Ground-breaking technology for aluminium production
  • Pilot facility at existing aluminium plant
  • Reduces energy consumption by about 15%

Hydro's pilot plant in Karmøy has the most climate and energy-efficient aluminium production technology in the world.

Lightweight aluminium is at the core of many industries’ plans to reduce emissions, and aluminium is a key component in trains, cars and a wide range of industries. It is estimated that demand for aluminium will grow by up to five percent each year until 2025.

Aluminium is, moreover, infinitely recyclable and recycling only requires five percent of the original energy needed. Primary aluminium production, however, is highly energy-intensive, making it decisive that the industry relies on renewable energy.

Low-emission aluminium production

Hydro is meeting the demand for greener metal with low-carbon aluminium products based on renewable energy, energy-efficient processes and recycled aluminium.

At Karmøy, Norway, Hydro is running a technology pilot on primary aluminium production. It operates on clean, renewable hydropower and will have the world’s lowest energy consumption and smallest carbon footprint. The facility is built adjacent to Hydro’s existing aluminium plant in Karmøy, adding 75 000 metric tons of aluminium production annually to the existing capacity of approximately 200 000 metric tons.

The technology, known as “HAL4e”, has been developed jointly by Hydro’s researchers in Norway and Germany, in partnership with the Norwegian University for Science and Technology, the SINTEF research group and the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE).

Additionally, Hydro’s pilot plant runs on a fully integrated, digital control platform. The plant uses input from sensors for real-time analysis and control of operations, and the company is also developing predictive capabilities to optimise production.

Concrete benefits

Hydro’s new pilot plant at Karmøy relies on hydro power, as does the entire aluminium production in Norway, and pushes the technological boundaries on energy efficiency. Compared with the world average, the technology developed by Hydro's researchers will reduce energy consumption in aluminium production by 15 per cent.

At Karmøy, carbon emissions will be the lowest in the world, at 3.5 kg of CO₂ equivalents per kg aluminium. Coal-based aluminium production, in comparison, emits 18 to 20 kg of CO₂ per kg aluminium. If the rest of the world produced aluminium with the technology Hydro is now rolling out, there would be energy savings equivalent to almost the entire Norwegian annual hydropower production.

Norsk Hydro ASA
Norsk Hydro ASA Image

Market potential

Technology from the pilot facility at Karmøy can be installed in future aluminium plants. Elements of the technology can also be implemented in existing plants around the world to improve energy efficiency and operational stability.

With global demand for aluminium increasing, alongside ever stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, there is substantial potential in the market for climate-friendly aluminium production.

Norsk Hydro was founded in 1905 as a hydro-electric company. Today, it is one of the largest aluminium producers in the world, with aluminium plants in more than 40 countries including Brazil, Germany and Norway. The Norwegian government owns 40 per cent of the company.

Kari Ertresvåg

Head of Communication and Public Affairs, Primary Metal

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