Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer Alcoa Corp. says it has installed a new furnace at its Mosjøen smelter in Norway to make the facility the home of the company’s “largest investment in recycling infrastructure.”
Alcoa says it has completed the installation of an induction furnace that uses renewable energy to recycle aluminum scrap, “saving energy and unlocking the infinite recyclability of our metal.”
The investment in Norway comes at the same time rival Norway-based aluminum producer Hydro also has made major investments in scrap melting technology, both in Norway and in Michigan in the United States.
The Alcoa Norway project stems from a collaboration between Alcoa and MMG Aluminium, a German-based metals trading company that supplies Mosjøen with clean aluminum chips and shavings that have been compressed into briquettes, says Alcoa.
The induction furnace melts the briquettes and then pours out the recycled-content aluminum for blending with the smelter’s primary (but low-carbon) aluminum and various alloying materials, depending on the end-use applications. End markets for the recycled-content aluminum include beverage cans and components for electric vehicles.
Mosjøen’s induction furnace runs on electricity sourced from wind and hydropower and uses alternating current that runs through a resisting coil, creating heat. That heat melts the scrap while removing impurities before pure market-ready aluminum is poured off via the furnace’s tilting mechanism, says Alcoa.
Alcoa calls the new induction furnace Alcoa’s induction furnace was its single largest return-seeking capital project in 2021, and says it was built in 10 months—a quick turnaround time compared with using many other furnace technologies.
“We have been working with the plant in Mosjøen for more than 15 years, and we are happy to see our long and steady relationship grow with an increase in the site’s recycling capabilities,” says Guenter Strobel, CEO and founder of MMG Aluminium. “We see Alcoa as the right partner for this project, which combines green energy to power a new furnace with the high-end quality standard of the products that we get from Alcoa Mosjøen.”
Alcoa and MMG say the furnace is charged, tended, cleaned and robotically skimmed using an automatic system. The induction furnace is able to operate semi- autonomously using sensors and guiding systems. “This is particularly helpful when blending scrap metal with primary aluminum to perfectly match the customer’s needs,” state the companies, adding, “By analyzing the scrap and making advance calculations, customer requirements are fully met in terms of purity, alloy content and any specific needs.”
Alcoa calls the Norway project one of several underway to contribute to its decarbonization efforts, along with its technology roadmap and its existing Sustana line of products designed to help customers reduce their carbon footprints.