Aluminium International Today July/August 2015

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July/August 2015 Volume 27 No 4




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Solid competence for the aluminum industry. Being able to trust in the expertise and performance of every team member, is the foundation for success. To our customers around the world this means being able to count on a comprehensive offering in the area of aluminum production. From thermal pre-treatment to shaping and refining, we always meet the constantly rising challenges of the market.

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Volume 27 No. 4 – July/August 2015 Editorial Editor: Nadine Firth Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855115



July/August 2015 Volume 27 No 4

Consulting Editor: Tim Smith PhD, CEng, MIM Production Editor: Annie Baker



RUSSIA - Riding the wave of global automotive market growth



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Aluminium in a deflationary environment



Cover picture courtesy of Turla



Supporters of Aluminium International Today


A blast from the past


History and future of dross processing


Best practice in dross management


The value of scrap




Adding value to the UK extrusion market


Reshaping the GCC aluminium downstream industry

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The anode baking revolution


Carbon slipping into a black hole?


Rodding shop: Open for business


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How lighter can be safer


Making way for modern aluminium


Bonding over technology


Right material: Right place


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Investing in extrusion


Urja answers July/August 2015

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Kitimat smelter begins production On a roll The thing about reporting news is that it is usually not good news. Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be the case this month. The modernisation of Rio Tinto’s Kitimat smelter is a glimmer of hope for the primary industry, which has recently seen an increase in smelter curtailments and closures. Coupled with this, the approval for the Line 6 Expansion Project at Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) supports the growing downstream industry demand. And, to top it off nicely, it has been announced that the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch will be made of recycled aluminium, which was chosen for its lightweight qualities to “make a better experience for the torchbearers.” There is more good news to be found in a dedicated extrusion feature, which looks at how the market is adding value and investing in the future. This starts with a look at the UK industry on page 31. A feature on secondary production includes a technical paper on recovering corrosive aluminium melting furnace waste heat (page 23) and a history of dross processing (page 25). The silver lining is brought slightly back down to earth in an interesting article about aluminium pricing, which examines a deflationary environment (page 20), while there’s also an automotive feature (page 46) and an ‘Anode Supplement’ on page 39 for good measure. As always, I hope you enjoy the issue and don’t hesitate to get in touch for editorial opportunities. July/August 2015

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Rio Tinto is preparing its first shipments of metal from its world-class Kitimat aluminium smelter in Canada following an extensive modernisation of the facility. The modernisation of the aluminium smelter will increase production capacity by 48% and result in Kitimat becoming one of the lowest cost smelters in the world. Having achieved first production in June 2015, Rio Tinto is now focused on safely ramping up to-

wards its annual production rate of 420,000 tonnes. The modernised smelter, which was delivered in line with the revised schedule and budget, is powered exclusively by Rio Tinto’s wholly owned hydro power facility and uses the company’s proprietary AP40 smelting technology which will effectively halve the smelter’s overall emissions. Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said, “The modernisation

of Kitimat will fundamentally transform its performance, moving it from the fourth quartile to the first decile of the industry cost curve. At full production, Kitimat will be one of the most efficient, greenest and lowest-cost smelters in the world. “Positioned in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, Kitimat is well placed to serve rapidly growing demand for aluminium in the Asia-Pacific region and to serve the North American market.”

Alba: Line 6 approved The approval for the Line 6 Expansion Project will make the company the largest single site smelter upon project completion. The Line 6 Expansion Project, expected to begin production in early 2019, will boost the per-annum production by 514,000 metric tonnes upon full ramp-up. This would bring Alba’s total production capacity to approximately 1,450,000 metric tonnes per year. One of the biggest industrial projects in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Line 6 Expansion Project is expected to have a big impact on the economy and new job creation. In addition, at least 50% of the new metal production is expected to be sold to existing and new Bahrain

downstream customers. The Line 6 Expansion Project will allow Alba to continue its marketing strategy of maintaining its core presence in the GCC and, leverage its global sales offices to directly market the additional metal produced to meet the growing international demand for aluminium. Alba’s Chairman of Board of Directors, Shaikh Daij Bin Salman Bin Daij Al Khalifa said: “I express sincere thanks to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, His Royal Highness The Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khal-

ifa for granting their approval and giving support for Alba’s Line 6 Expansion Project. I also express our profound gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain for its decision to approve the Line 6 Expansion Project.” Actual construction of Line 6 is estimated to commence in 2016 upon the completion of final engineering designs, selection of project EPCM for Line 6 and EPC for the Power Station 5. Alba’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Murray added: “We are very excited to get the go ahead for the Line 6 Expansion Project and look forward to the many opportunities it will present for both Alba and Bahrain.”

For up-to-date news & views Aluminium International Today

7/21/15 11:54 AM

Streamline your operations


Appointments Aleris: New CEO Aleris has announced that its board of directors has appointed Sean Stack (pictured below) to the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Steve Demetriou, who has served as chairman and CEO since the company’s inception in 2004 has made the decision to leave Aleris to pursue a new leadership opportunity. Noranda: New Presidents Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation has announced the hiring of Julio Costa as President of the company’s Bauxite and Alumina business. Noranda also announced that Mike Griffin, the company’s Vice President of Manufacturing, has been named President of the Primary Aluminum business. Aluminum Association: New Member Companies The Aluminum Association has announced the addition of three new member companies: HEICHE GROUP US Surface Technology; Phinix, LLC; and Walter Surface Technologies. Ma’aden to host ARABAL Featuring international participation, the 19th 19th International Arab Aluminium Conference is scheduled to take place from 15-17 November 2015 at the Dhahran International Exhibitions Center in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For up-to-date news & views July/August 2015

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Rio 2016: Going for aluminium The Rio 2016 Olympic torch has been unveiled by the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The torch is crafted from recycled aluminium and resin with a stain finish and has different segments, which expand when the Olympic flame is passed from one torchbearer to another. These segments represent the soil, sea, mountains, sky and sun and are coloured according to the Brazil-

ian flag. Organisers said lightweight materials were used to improve the experience of the torchbearers, as well as a design that induces a grip closer to the torch’s centre of gravity. Beth Lula, the organising committee brand director, said: “The design of the Rio 2016 torch was inspired by the Olympic spirit, our country’s nature, and the harmo-

nious diversity and energy of our people.” Following the traditional Olympic flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, the Olympic flame arrives in Brasilia in May 2016 and will be carried by 12,000 torchbearers across 300 cities and towns reaching an estimated 90% of Brazil’s population.

Bridgnorth mill approved A rolling mill that should create 65 jobs at a UK aluminium plant has been given the go-ahead. The new mill, which is part of a £41 million extension of Bridgnorth Aluminium’s factory, was given the go-ahead by Shropshire Council’s south planning committee. Plans for the rolling mill at the

plant include a slightly larger building at the centre of the complex, an oil filter plant and transformer enclosure, two new exhaust stacks that will not rise above the current height of the buildings, plus a new air purification building with its own stack. Bridgnorth Aluminium took

over the former Novelis mills in 2010 and now employs about 310 people, set to rise to 375 by 2017 now the new plans have been approved. It is hoped the first production off the line will start by the end of the year and then new people will start being employed

Hydro enters power contract Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products GmbH, has secured a power contract with Axpo Trading AG, a Switzerland-based energy company with captive power production and international trading activi-

ty, totalling 0.9 TWh (100 MW) annually in the eight year period from 2018 to 2025. The new contract will replace parts of an existing combination of internal and external power ar-

Alcoa invests in aerospace Alcoa is investing $22 million in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology at its facility in Whitehall, Michigan. The investment will enable Alcoa to capture growing demand for advanced titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world’s bestselling jet engines. “As aerospace growth soars, Alcoa continues to invest in the latest technologies, creating added capacity to capture fast-growing demand,” said Olivier Jarrault, Executive Vice President and Alcoa Group President, Engineered Products and Solutions.

rangements entered into in 2012, supplying Hydro Neuss primary aluminium plant with a total of 2.2 TWh (250 MW) annually in the period from 2013 to 2017.

Cans are package of choice

Aluminium cans are the most recycled and highest value beverage container on the market today, according to a new report released by the Aluminum Association and Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI). The aluminium can has the highest recycling rate of any beverage container and contains 70% recycled content on average – more than three times the recycled content of glass or plastic (PET) bottles. The study also found that aluminium can recycled material is worth nearly 300% more per ton than plastic or glass. Aluminium International Today

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IN BRIEF Ducab aluminium plant According to reports, Dubai Cable Company (Ducab), is building its first aluminium plant. The $60 million factory in Abu Dhabi in the UAE will have the capacity to produce 50,000 metric tons of aluminium rod and overhead conductors annually. The project, called Ducab Aluminium Company, will create 120 to 140 jobs with its opening planned for the first quarter of 2016.

Sapa to close Perfialsa Sapa has announced its intention to close operations at its aluminium extrusion plant in Arteixo, Spain. Sapa Extrusion Perfialsa has been negatively affected by the weak aluminium extrusion market in Spain, where consumption dropped more than 60% between 2007 and 2013.

Homogenising line Seco/Warwick Europe has signed a contract with UC Rusal Krasnoyarsk, Russia, for delivery, installation, and commissioning of billet continuous homogenising line. The completion of the project is planned for January 2017.

Outotec delivers to EGA Outotec has agreed with Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) on the design and delivery of two alumina calciners to the alumina refinery that EGA plans to construct in Al Taweelah, Abu Dhabi.

Re-melt expansion project GARMCO, the Bahrain-based international aluminium rolling mill has announced the signing of a letter of intent with Fives, to build a new casthouse at GARMCO’s Bahrain based facilities. The total cost of the project will reach up to $55 million. The project will run for a duration of approximately 21 months, starting September 2015. The new project, once complete, will enable GARMCO to produce 120,000 tonnes of aluminium slabs.

Intellectual property acquisition Mecfor Inc. has announced the acquisition of the intellectual property of Brochot SA, France. Until recently, Brochot specialised in the design and manufacturing of equipment for various metal industries, in particular primary aluminium smelters worldwide. Until recently, Brochot specialised in the design and manufacturing of equipment for various metal industries, in particular primary al-

uminium smelters worldwide. Following the acquisition process that began in February, the order for the transfer of intangible assets to Mecfor Inc. was handed down on June 2nd by the Bobigny commercial court in France. Mecfor Inc. is taking control effective immediately and will be in a position to supply equipment, technical support, replacement parts, and service for Brochot

products worldwide. “With the Brochot acquisition, Mecfor Inc. is reinforcing its strategic position in the global aluminium market place by expanding and diversifying its products. “It’s an exciting opportunity to offer the Mecfor’s standard of quality to new and existing clients across the globe,” says Éloise Harvey, B. Eng. & Mgmt President of Mecfor Inc.

Constellium and Linde JV Constellium N.V. and Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, have announced that they have signed a joint development agreement to use Linde’s oxy-fuel technology in Constellium’s recycling and melting furnaces, with a goal

of cutting energy consumption by half while increasing melting rates by 20%. The joint development agreement will build on the recent implementation of Linde’s technology in Constellium’s finishing

and recycling aluminium facility of Neuf-Brisach, France, where two of the four rotary tilting furnaces have been converted to low-temperature oxy-fuel combustion technology.

Fives partners with ECL Fives has announced the acquisition of ECL, a specialist in the design and installation of equipment used to produce primary aluminium. ECL will become a new entity within Fives and bring a high level of complementary technical

strengths and sales strategies. Frédéric Sanchez, Chairman of the Executive Board, said: “With the acquisition of ECL, Fives has strengthened its position as number one in the supply of key process equipment used in aluminium

production. ECL’s business perfectly complements that of Fives. “The combined assets of our two companies will strengthen the quality of our offer to aluminium producers, in particular in the service sector.”

Voith installation at Novelis Two Voith SafeSet Couplings (Model SR-PC 870) are scheduled for installation at Novelis’s recently-expanded Oswego, New York facility later in 2015. The couplings will be applied with a 120 inch wide aluminium hot strip reversing roughing mill

powered by two 4000HP motors that produces rolled aluminium products.The SafeSets are to be integrated with the centre sections of existing slipper spindles. They are engineered for possible future application with Voith Universal Joint Shafts.

Novelis’s Oswego manufacturing plant recently expanded via the addition of a $200 million hot finishing rolling mill to produce five times more aluminium for an increase of 200,000 mt/year.

For up-to-date news & views July/August 2015

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Aluminium International Today

7/21/15 11:55 AM

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8 INDUSTRY NEWS NEWS IN BRIEF Lexus aluminium facelift Lexus has shared that the upcoming RX Facelift is going to be made of aluminium. This will make the SUV the first ever vehicle from Lexus to come out with aluminium parts.

The aluminium wave An old aluminium smelter is being transformed into ‘Surf Snowdonia’, UK, a £12m recreational facility set to open in August 2015. ‘Surf Snowdonia’ will open on 1 August on the former site of the century-old Dolgarrog aluminium factory.

Solar energy melts aluminium As manufacturing plants are being under pressure to reduce their energy spending, many countries and companies are trying to make progress in innovating. Researchers from Germany and South Africa have proposed a technique to reduce the emission in metal processing factories and will use South Africa’s large aluminium processing industry as a test bed.

Gulf Fluor increases The Abu Dhabi-based chemicals producer Gulf Fluor plans to spend Dh1 billion to expand capacity and add new products. The expansion will focus on downstream products that are widely used in refrigeration and cooling applications and other industries. Gulf Fluor’s Dh1.5 billion complex has the capacity to produce 60,000 tonnes per year of aluminium fluoride, which is an important additive used in the production of aluminium.

Chemetall acquires Chemal GmbH & Co. KG Chemetall has announced that it has acquired the business of Chemal GmbH & Co. KG, based in Hamm, Germany. This transaction will enhance Chemetall’s integrated portfolio for the aluminium finishing industry.

For up-to-date news & views July/August 2015

Nadine jul aug.indd 4

Alcoa: Brazil smelter close Alcoa has announced that it will permanently close its Poços de Caldas primary aluminium smelter in Brazil. “The closure of the Poços smelter permanently removes a highcost smelting facility from the

Alcoa system and is another step in creating a more profitable Primary Metals business,” said Alcoa Global Primary Products President Bob Wilt. Once the Poços smelter is closed, Alcoa’s total global smelt-

ing capacity will be reduced by 96,000 metric tons, to 3.4 million metric tons. The Poços mine, refinery, aluminium powder plant and casthouse will continue normal operations.

Aluminium extrusion grows The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) and the Aluminum Association have released industry estimates of aluminium extrusion shipments in North America by

major markets for 2014. Among key findings, domestic consumption of aluminium extrusions in the United States and Canada, which includes imports,

totalled an estimated 4.90 billion pounds in 2014, an increase of 7.6% over the revised 2013 total of 4.55 billion pounds.

Hilton Head Brewing in evercan Novelis and Hilton Head Brewing Company have announced the launch of Hilton Head Brewing Company beer in aluminium cans, made from Novelis evercan – the world’s first and only certified high-recycled content aluminium can sheet. “Consumers are not only demanding better beer and better packaging, but also more sustainable practices from the brands they love,” said Bruce Maclane, Director, evercan Craft Brew Sales, Novelis. “With evercan, we’re able to help brewers deliver on all counts, particularly when it comes to sustainability. We’re recycling aluminium cans back into

new cans in as little as 60 days, and with evercan, we’re ensuring

it has the highest recycled content on the market.”

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October 8 - 10 AluExpo* AluExpo will be held on 9.000m² net stand area of over 20.000m²

exhibition venue and in excess of 350 exhibitors from more than 30 countries and 10.000 visitors from over 70 countries are expected.

November 15 - 17 ARABAL* The Arab International Aluminium Conference and Exhibition (ARABAL) is the premium trade event for the Middle East’s aluminium industry.

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Riding the wave of global automotive market growth

The transport industry currently accounts for 26% of global aluminium consumption. UC Rusal expects demand for aluminium from this industry to grow between 5-7% throughout 2015-2020, with automotive being the key driver. Vera Kurochkina* explains The switch to lightweight automotive sheet is transforming the rolled products industries in both Europe and North America as traditional can-sheet producers seek higher margin products. Global aluminium producers have been challenged to develop new alloys to meet growing demand both for body-inwhite (BiW) and component applications. Concurrently, both automotive and metal producers have to improve their sustainability standards to negate the environmental impacts associated. The European Aluminium Association, the US Aluminum Association and Ducker Worldwide have conducted studies to quantify the estimated increase in aluminium usage over the coming years. In Europe, the aluminium intensity in vehicles has already risen from 50kg in 1990 to 140kg in 2012. Looking further, aluminium intensity could hit 160kg and potentially 180kg by 2020. In the US, aluminium intensity rose from 72kg in 1990 to 155kg in 2012, with the potential to reach 212kg per vehicle in 2020. Ducker Worldwide research suggests that by 2025, light vehicle aluminium content will approach 188 million tonnes globally, making light vehicles the most important global market for aluminium. Aluminium used in automotive body parts, doors and closures will reach critical mass in 2015 and head for an explosive period of growth between 2015-2025,

breaking a 40 year trend line. Every leading automaker will have several aluminium body and closure panel programmes in place by 2025. Based on research from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the highest margin premium cars are generally in the largest segment with bigger engine sizes and so emit higher emissions. Therefore, the use of aluminium to lighten the car has been developed in the premium segment, and has gradually spread down to the other segments. In 2014, there was a high correlation between global vehicle sales and aluminium consumption. Global car sales ended at a record high in 2014, easing fears of a forecast slowdown. Looking back at 2014, Macquarie estimates show that automotive sales rose 3.4%, (2.7 million vehicles), to an all-time high of 81.6 million units. Q1 2015 figures show that demand has kept growing. According to focus2move, the automotive consultancy, the global passenger car market grew by 2.5%, reaching 22.1 million vehicles, half a million more compared to Q1 2014. These factors contribute to a positive year-on-year outlook with another record automotive sales year - the sixth year in a row. During the last few years China has been the key driver in global automotive growth. According to Macquarie, during 2008-2013 passenger vehicle demand in

China grew at the brisk pace of 21.6% per annum. In 2014, Chinese growth slowed compared to 2013’s level to 13%, with light commercial vehicle sales falling, but still however demonstrating the highest global sales with 1.6 million vehicles sold. Even though one in every four cars realised in China has domestic origins, China however is observed to prefer Volkswagen and General Motors brands, purchasing 3.7 million and 3.5 million in 2014 respectively. Macquarie estimates that China will have a penetration of 269 vehicles per 1,000 people, representing an installed base of 390 million, by 2030. On the wave of rising global automotive consumption, Toyota announced the shift from steel to lighter material for high-volume new vehicles in 2014: Lexus RX and Toyota Camry – both all-new models. Jaguar employed the extensive use of aluminium in their Jaguar XE sedan chassis, which is said to be first in its class.

*Director of Corporate Communications and Board member at UC Rusal Aluminium International Today

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July/August 2015

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Volkswagen’s new Golf 8 will be 35-75kg lighter than previous Golf models thanks to aluminium usage. The Ford F-150 truck’s aluminium body has widely been seen as revolutionary. It was the first mass-market vehicle to use aluminium, while the F-150 is the best-selling Ford vehicle in the USA. Ford’s successful switch to an aluminium body could become an example that other global vehicle manufacturers can make further investment inroads towards aluminium usage. Alongside automotive producers, aluminium companies have equally invested a lot of expense, research and development, focusing on products, processes, and customer service elements to the automotive sector. UC Rusal is just one of these companies that has been expanding its auto sheet production and developing plans for the further increase in capacity for automotive needs. Increased global automotive demand has led to Rusal’s casthouse investments into rolling slab and large diameter extrusion billet. The lightweighting benefits of aluminium contribute to one side of the ‘sustainability coin’. Aluminium production is energy consuming to a high degree and sustainability of the metal

July/August 2015

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is directly linked to the way the metal is produced. The aluminium industry is an extremely competitive and highly consolidated sector with high entry barriers that are related to the specifics of aluminium production. Sustainable performance, including ecological efforts to minimise coal-fired power production, is one of the key barriers. One tonne of aluminium produced with coal-fired technologies is five times more emissionintensive than one tonne of aluminium produced with greener technologies. Coal-fired power generation accounts for nearly 75% of the carbon emissions from aluminium production if calculated along the whole production chain. For Rusal, Europe, Russia and the CIS countries; North America, South-East Asia, Japan and Korea are the key sales markets and it is important to perform sustainably to keep its leading positions on the global market. A disciplined approach to capacity utilisation through the curtailment of ecologically inefficient, coal-fired smelters demonstrates Rusal’s commitment to reducing harmful emissions. As a result, today the company’s aluminium production is based in Siberia, Russia, with the direct access to renewable hydropower energy.

About 95% of Russian aluminium is produced using environmentally-friendly hydropower, generated without any harmful emissions. Rusal aspires to make aluminium production one of the most environmentally friendly processes across the metals and mining industry and welcomes foreign partners to join the development of the vast potential of Siberia. During 2015-2017, new emission control standards are scheduled in the US, the EU, India and China. This will require global automotive producers to improve fuel consumption and cut pollutants with the view to make both production and vehicle usage ultimately sustainable. One way to do this is to reduce vehicle weight, which ensures the optimisation of fuel consumption and, as a result, a lower CO2 footprint. The other goes with the sustainability of how the basic metal is made. Bullish forecasts on increasing aluminium demand within the automotive sector up to 2025 and further will push global aluminium producers to take part in the ‘sustainability’ race to guarantee the sustainability of metal production to prove aluminium’s status as ‘the right metal of choice’. 

Aluminium International Today

7/21/15 10:36 AM


World Aluminium

The CRU World Aluminium conference was held in Dubai on 11th – 13th May 2015. Nadine Firth* was in attendance. ‘Strategic challenges’ was the theme of this year’s conference and was emphasised by Ron Knapp, Secretary General of the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) in his opening speech. “We live in a dynamic world and as an industry, we must change with the world,” said Mr Knapp. “Our industry continues to grow as a global economy needs a global product.” In the following presentation, Mr Abdulla JM Kalban, CEO and MD of Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) also discussed a need for strategy and detailed the challenges that the industry will soon face or is facing:  Increased growth in supply in the next two years vs the last decade.  Premium disruption from the disparity between published and spot market premiums.  The ‘Chinese’ effect: Reduced import of scrap from global markets and increased export of semis. Continuing with a look at challenges posed by the growing aluminium demand, Alf Barrios, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) presented a paper looking at the company’s bauxite strategy. Mr Barrios stressed that meeting Chinese bauxite import requirements will be a test, but RTA plans to double its bauxite exports and deliver value through the aluminium cycle. Other papers in the session were presented by Tim Murray, Chief Executive Officer of Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), Steve Hodgson, Director of Sales and Marketing at RUSAL, and Thomas Walpole, Senior Vice President Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden). Tim Murray highlighted the link between

safety and productivity when it comes to facing challenges, while Steve Hodgson looked at the demand caused from new ways of using aluminium in transport. Finally, Thomas Walpole discussed the value of scrap and how future scrap flow is a compliment to primary demand. He mentioned that Ma’aden is positioned for growth in downstream demand and said: “As young as we are, we are off to a very good start in terms of being a contributor to the GCC.” More challenges The second session of the first day continued to focus on strategic challenges and covered the flat rolled products market, the Chinese market outlook, and finished with a focus on shapes, semi’s and premiums. CRU’s own Marco Georgiou highlighted China’s impact on the global aluminium market, including:  Chinese supply outpaces demand growth  Premiums hit by Chinese exports He also commented on how the world’s primary aluminium consumption growth has slowed in 2015 and China’s construction sector remains crucial to demand. Bauxite and alumina The final session on the first day was a panel discussion looking at the bauxite and alumina industries. Michael Insulan, Managing Consultant, Aluminium Raw Materials at CRU, presented on ‘The Malaysian Surprise’, which looked at the spare alumina refining capacity and how China has the option of importing alumina.

“Malaysia has had a softening impact on bauxite prices,” said Mr Insulan. “There is definitely a need for a new bauxite supply.” Continuing the theme, Andrew Wood from Alumina Limited announced plans for new alumina capacity to delay the risk for some projects outside China. He said: “New projects in Malaysia, Australia and Guinea are needed on time to avoid a bauxite gap in the near term.” Day two The second and final day of the conference began with a ‘Fire Side Chat’ with William Hovis, Chief Procurement Officer, Bottling Investments Group, the Coca Cola Company. Thankfully, with the temperature rising outside, the ‘fire side’ was not taken literally. Mr Hovis discussed the company’s plans to increase recycled content in its aluminium packaging to 75% by 2020. “The intrinsic value of this package is so important,” he said. When asked about China as a game changer and a potential sourcing option for can sheet, Mr Hovis said: “It’s coming and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.” The following papers took a look at key demand trends including automotive body sheet, the construction sector and extrusions, aluminium foil and margins at each end of the value chain. Cans vs cars CRU’s Paul Williams gave a very interesting presentation on the trends in automotive body sheet and detailed the shift in can stock capacity to automotive sheet. He pointed out that rollers could be in for prosperous times if they can shield themselves from China, but there remains

*Editor, Aluminium International Today Aluminium International Today

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a great opportunity for aluminium cans in solutions offered by foil and that more needs to be done to promote its the GCC, Middle East and Africa. Attention also turned to the USA and environmental qualities and its efforts in the predicted loss of 800,000 tpy can reducing food waste. “There is a need to develop a handprint stock capacity over the next decade. The reason being the growing demand for for foil to counterbalance the LCA footprint automotive body sheet, which is a high burden of primary aluminium and to show the benefits of the use phase,” he said. value product. Continuing the rolled aluminium theme, Stefan Glimm of the Global Foil Roller Aluminium scrap Initiative highlighted that foil represents One of the final sessions included a an important share of rolled aluminium panel discussion led by Will Savage, Chief Executive, Aluminium Federation (ALFED). stock. The panel focused on the negative He spoke about the closures market in particular and how there are activities implication of the word ‘scrap’ for what planned globally to support growth in this is a valuable resource and examined the ARUN TECHNOLOGY_Layout 1 9/23/13 3:15 PM Page 1 area. He also discussed the sustainable challenges posed by growing demand,

including inadequate collection. Chris Bayliss, Deputy Secretary General for the International Aluminium Institute, said scrap is available, but it is still locked in. “Scrap is a constrained resource. We will need primary sources to meet demand,” he said. Aluminium International Today caught up with Will Savage after the session and you can read a full interview on this subject later in this issue. World Aluminium 2016 For updated information on the next CRU World Aluminium event, visit the website: 


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July/August 2015

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Using initiative

Nadine Firth* spoke to the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative’s new Executive Director, Dr Fiona Solomon, about the next step for aluminium.

Recently appointed Dr Fiona Soloman (pictured) brings nearly 20 years of experience in sustainability, corporate social responsibility and independent third party certification in the mining industry and downstream precious metals sectors. Q. What was behind the launch of the ASI? A. In 2009, a global group of aluminium industry and NGO stakeholders joined forces to assess industry-specific sustainability challenges, opportunities and needs. Participants included the aluminium industry, civil society, policy makers, retailers and industrial users of aluminium. A product assurance consultancy, Track Record Global, was commissioned to develop a report that summarised the industry’s environmental, social and governance sustainability-related risks and opportunities. The report also underscored the need for a transparent worldwide multi-stakeholder approach to complement existing sustainability programmes throughout the aluminium industry.

This initial scoping work led to the creation of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) in 2012. At the end of 2012, IUCN were invited to be the host and co-ordinator for the standards setting process. A Standards Setting Group was convened, resulting in the launch of the ASI Performance Standard in December 2014. Q. What is the objective of the ASI? A. ASI seeks to mobilise a broad base of stakeholders to establish and promote responsible environmental, social and governance practices across the aluminium value chain. It is developing a certification programme covering both performance of operations through the value chain, and chain of custody for flows of material produced in conformance with ASI standards. Stakeholder consultation and pilot testing will continue through 2015 and 2016. The aim is to launch the full ASI certification system in 2017. Q. How does the ASI work with the aluminium industry? A. ASI welcomes more interested

companies from all parts of the aluminium value chain to become involved in the 2015 work programme. Participation is open to any company with a stake in the aluminium value chain, including mining operators, alumina refiners, primary and secondary metal producers, transformers, and downstream users. Industry associations are also welcome. For more information on membership, see: about-asi/join-asi/ ASI will also be continuing and expanding engagement with the industry through regular communications, engagement and outreach, so as to inform the ongoing development of ASI’s programme. Q. What are the main challenges the ASI is experiencing when working towards a sustainable aluminium industry? A. ASI is still at an early stage of its development as a standards body. Many initiatives like this face challenges of working with limited resources at a global scale with multiple stakeholder groups, and ASI is no exception. Our challenges for 2015 include growing industry and

*Editor, Aluminium International Today July/August 2015

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stakeholder engagement and awareness, increasing participation and uptake at all parts of the value chain and in additional downstream sectors, and working through the detail of developing appropriate governance and assurance models. We are looking forward to working collaboratively on these challenges. Q. In what areas does the aluminium industry need to focus on with regards to sustainability? A. Priority issues that have been identified during the standards setting process are:  Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for refining and smelting;  Bauxite residues, spent pot lining (SPL) and dross for refining, smelting, remelting and casting;  Biodiversity management for bauxite mining;  Indigenous Peoples rights for bauxite mining and smelting;  Material stewardship for semifabrication, material conversion, remelting and consumer/commercial goods suppliers. Q. Is the industry doing enough to address the environmental, social

and governance aspects of the aluminium value chain? A. The aluminium industry has many leading companies that are very proactive on these issues. As is well known, aluminium provides environmental benefits in many of its applications. Its light weight helps improve the fuel economy in transport sectors, reducing emissions. Its use in packaging prolongs shelf life thus delivering health and food distribution benefits. And because aluminium is infinitely recyclable, 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use. However, the aluminium industry is still working hard to improve its sustainability performance. For example, reduction of GHG emissions from energy use and from the electrolysis processes remains important to reduce the overall carbon footprint of primary aluminium. There are opportunities to minimise the generation of SPL by extending life times of the pots, as well as to ensure proper handling of SPL waste through treatment or use by other industries, such as the cement industry. And in order to optimise and improve collection and recycling of post-consumer aluminium scrap, products can be

designed in a way that enables and supports efficient collection and recycling. Q. What is the next big step for the ASI? A. In 2015, ASI is focusing on:  Creating a formal ASI legal entity, including governance system, membership structure, 2016 income model, and secretariat functions to manage the programme.  Developing the assurance model and normative documents for a third party certification programme.  Further developing the Chain-ofCustody Standard for the flow of ASIcompliant aluminium through the value chain.  Led by IUCN, developing a first draft of performance indicators. These activities will be informed by consensus building with participating companies, stakeholder engagement meetings, expert input and pilot testing of proposed models. To keep up-to-date with ASI activities and opportunities to be involved, join the mailing list at: 

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Grupa Kety S.A. installs ‘ a new Turla 18MN full extrusion line with press Grupa Kety S.A., the biggest extrusion company in Poland awarded to Turla the supply of a new ’ complete 18 MN extrusion system. Grupa Kety is a renowned and reputable supplier of aluminium profiles and ’ bars, able to provide both soft and hard alloys for building, industrial and automotive applications. This project is the natural prosecution of a continuous cooperation lasting for almost 20 years. Efficiency and environmental footprint have always been a driving factor in Grupa Kety choice for its capital investments and also this time Turla has been able to meet these goals, in particular some machines can be considered at the top of the industry for these factors. This system also includes other most modern machines for a complete automatic extrusion and basket management where workers will not touch any profile from press platen until packing. Extrusion Press equipped with ECO-LOGIC 2.0 (patent pending) system. Eco+logic 2.0 is the ultimate optimization for an extrusion press’ hydraulic system. The aim of this system is to dramatically reduce the energy to be spent during extrusion. This system goes further beyond the traditional systems consisting of pumps supplied with constant speed motors that can be ON or OFF (where the variation of oil flow is accomplished through very expensive and noisy variable flow piston pumps) or pumps with frequency inverter, powered through servomotors which vary their RPM to also vary oil flow, still having problems of noise level and still requiring overfeeding pump (not to mention the still high cost of piston pumps) Eco+logic 2.0 guarantees many advantages as:  No need of auxiliary pumps  All pumps are identical (just one pump to be kept in the warehouse)  Highest noise level of one main pump is below 60 dBA @ 300 bar, a world-record for low noise. Non need for a sound proof cabinet for pumps  Hydraulics are much simplified, therefore less skill to understand hydraulics, less time to be spent for inspection and maintenance with oil underJuly/August 2015

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going much less stress, less heating and less energy (money) to be spent for cooling. Hence oil lifetime is extended more than 20%.  Very little energy is spent to reach peak pressure and speed thanks to system concept. The maximum pressure is reached at very low speed spending a very limited amount of the installed power. Piston pumps (also with inverters), on the contrary, require a much higher power to deliver the same performance. Eco+logic 2.0 energy saving in comparison to these solutions exceeds 30%.  Very compact pumps, about one third the size of a normal piston pump About reliability, gear pumps are made by the most reliable companies in the world since decades and used in very many fields including petrochemical. They can work with very high pressure in continuous mode, while in this application, according to Turla philosophy, maximum working pressure never exceeds 250-260 bars, well within their safety limit. Servomotors control the speed of pumps (RPM). This is what makes the oil flow change. Only the fact that the highest pressure is reached at just approx. 15-20% of the maximum speed tells how quite they are, and also lower speed means less wear. Log heater STeP5 - lowest worldwide log heater emission. This log heater, produced by Turla since 2008, represents a turning point in the aluminium log heating technology with drastic reduction of pollution. The majority of log heaters available on the market are manufactured according to old design and their fuel efficiency in average is approx. 55%. They generate significant amounts of pollution both in terms of combustion residuals and exhausts temperature. Turla Step5 fuel efficiency (thermal efficiency) is measurable every moment, every day and it is actually (not theoretically) 81%. This efficiency can be also translated in a yearly carbon dioxide emission reduction of approx. 380 metric tons, equal to 150 medium size cars. Aluminium International Today

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Gas reduction represents also a huge reduction of productions costs. Costs vary country by country but annual savings can be measured in several tenth thousands of euros, very important when considering machine payback. High efficiency is also a warranty for high heating uniformity, optimal insulation and proper indirect heating permit to achieve target temperature and optimal homogeneity of billet temperature granting better extrusion with any die, possibility to us harder alloys and have higher extrusion speed. One of the most appreciated features of STeP5 is the minimal maintenance, less labour cost, less money to be spent on rollers, no production stops and, above all, no more unexpected stops for sudden rollers failures. Turla, on the basis of the optimal results in the years of service, can therefore provide an extended warranty. The press and the complete system were dry tested in the last week of May 2015 in Turla premises. Here are some comments from Grupa Kety engineers supervising the test: “You can really fall in love with this press. It has many special features including innovative solution with gear pumps with water cooled and inverter controlled motors, flexible hydraulics, shutter on the press exit preventing injury of operators, in case of die breaking or during start of first billet. Due to the space limitations, we decided for the solution with pumps installed on the oil tank. It was a nice surprise to hear, during the movements of the press, how little noise is generated by gear pumps, so no noise reduction cabin will be necessary and no complication of maintenance. We really appreciate good co-operation and flexibility of Turla, fulfilling a lot of our special requests, coming from our over 50 years experience, that were integrated in the press. What made a positive impression on us during the test of the press, was particular attention given to small but very important details in practical life.â€?î ˛


entirely engineered, manufactured and dry-tested at Turla srl 18MN front-loading extrusion press full hydraulic redundancies nominal pressure 240 bar no need of foundation pre-stressed frame forged main parts 11.3 s DCT

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Aluminium in a deflationary environment For some years now, aluminium producers have been forced to contend with an environment of falling prices. This has prompted many to complain of the risks of ‘deflation.’ But just because prices are falling, is this really deflation? Nic Brown* explains. We start with a brief examination of the theoretical differences between disinflation and deflation. While the former can have economic benefits, the latter is clearly an economic scourge that should be avoided if at all possible. From this brief theoretical synopsis, we move on to a more detailed analysis of developments in the global aluminium market. How and why have prices fallen? Have lower prices stimulated additional demand for aluminium, or are they merely part of an inevitable downward spiral? Our conclusion is that the recent decline in aluminium prices is mainly disinflationary rather than deflationary. Cheaper aluminium prices have boosted demand for the metal, facilitating technological innovation as well as encouraging the use of aluminium as a substitute for more expensive metals. Nevertheless, it would be dangerous to be complacent, and deflationary forces may indeed lurk behind the rapid expansion in aluminium capacity over the past decade. Deflation versus disinflation We would argue that there is a very significant difference between deflation and disinflation. Disinflation can be defined as a fall in either inflation or the outright price level which is caused by exogenous factors such as lower energy prices, technological advances or currency 3,200 3,000 2,800

movements. Such a scenario would be expected to have a positive impact upon the economy, typically by boosting demand for those goods and services which have fallen in price. While it may appear similar in its effects upon prices, deflation is a far more dangerous phenomenon. Deflation can be defined as an economic system in which endogenous imbalances result in a downward spiral within which economic agents are powerless to address their own underlying structural problems. The phenomenon was first addressed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. For Keynes, classical economics failed to explain the problems of mass unemployment faced by economies in the 1920s-30s. Keynes’ thesis: In an environment of insufficient aggregate demand, workers cannot reduce their real wages by cutting money wages, due to the negative effects upon aggregate demand of a fall in wages and prices. In effect, a downward spiral of nominal wages and final goods prices meant that real wages remained unchanged, preventing workers from pricing themselves back into a job. For Keynes, the economic system could only be brought back into equilibrium through an exogenous increase in aggregate demand. 3,200

Aluminium prices ($/tonne)





















2,000 Sources: Bloomberg, Natixis * assuming USDCNY = 6.2 Nov-11

Nominal rate (1y OIS, a year ago)

US with Midwest premium


1,600 May-10

Eurozone rates (%)





Monetary policy in a deflationary environment In an environment in which prices and wages are falling, monetary policy risks becoming ineffective if inflationary expectations become dis-anchored. Central banks may lower nominal rates, but the falling price level means that real interest rates rise. Under the Bernanke Fed, these dangers were quickly recognised, hence the introduction of quantitative easing. As well as lowering long-term interest rates, QE helps to boost the economy through a more widespread compression of risk premiums, including credit risk, term premiums and equity risk premiums, thereby boosting the value of a wide range of financial assets. Do we face deflation today? How can we differentiate between deflation and disinflation in the current macroeconomic climate? Given their similar effects upon prices, it can be hard to tell the two apart. We would hypothesise that some of the world’s economic problems do indeed smack of deflation, whereas other phenomena would be better defined as disinflation. For example, Greece finds itself in a painful deflationary spiral, in which government efforts to reduce the fiscal deficit via cuts to spending programmes have so far had no impact upon the deficit as a share



Inflation rate (corresponding) Real rate








Sources: Bloomberg, Natixis



-3 2011



*Head of Commodities Research, Natixis July/August 2015

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of national income due to the negative impact of those cuts upon nominal GDP. Over the past four years, aluminium prices have fallen from over $2,500/tonne to just $1,700/tonne, a drop of over 30%. To what extent is this due to a process of deflation or disinflation? Here, we will examine the various factors behind the steady drop in aluminium prices, in an effort to ascertain whether the industry is indeed suffering from deflation. Lower energy prices In their effects upon the global economy, lower energy prices are expected to provide a boost to global demand. Oil consuming nations benefit from a rise in household disposable income and/or an improvement in government finances. In contrast, falling oil revenue in oil producing countries reduces (net) saving more than it cuts consumption. As a result, the net impact upon global growth is positive, similar in its effect to a balanced budget multiplier. For aluminium producers, falling energy prices are an important contributor to lower costs of production, but in order to benefit fully from lower energy prices, this has often necessitated significant investment in new energy supplies. The 5mn t/y of aluminium now produced in the Gulf region benefits from significantly lower average energy costs than output produced in other parts of the world. Elsewhere, producers are also investing heavily in cheaper sources of energy. In China, this has resulted in rapid expansion of captive power plants, delivering coalfired energy direct to smelters. With the 30% fall in coal prices over the past four years, this strategy is delivering substantial efficiency gains for those producers with access to captive power. In Russia, new smelters are situated close to major HEP projects. Combining the effects of investment in low-cost energy and falls in energy prices

over the past four years, average energy costs per tonne of global aluminium production have fallen by at least $70/ tonne, according to AME data. Stronger dollar Over the past year, dollar strength has been caused by anticipation of imminent rate hikes by the US Fed, at the same time as the ECB and BoJ are implementing quantitative easing programmes. While the strength of the dollar has clearly contributed to lower dollar-denominated aluminium prices, it is perhaps more informative to consider the effects of the depreciation that has occurred on the other side of the currency equation. Between mid-2014 and January 2015, the value of the ruble halved versus the dollar. For Rusal, with two-thirds of its cost base in Russia, this provided a huge gain in efficiency, helping to bring costs of production down to less than $1,500/ tonne. Other countries where producers may benefit from a weakening of their domestic currency include India and Brazil. Investing in more efficient technology In addition to investing in cheaper sources of energy, aluminium producers have also invested heavily in more energyefficient technology. In China, new (and upgraded) smelters are now required to meet tough energy efficiency standards, which demand that power consumption must be below 12,750kWh/tonne for liquid metal, and less than 13,200kWh/ tonne for ingots. This has stimulated innovations such as larger cells which employ lower energy inputs per unit of output, eg Chalco’s 600kA super-cells. As a result, Chinese aluminium smelters are now more energy efficient than any other region of the world. New smelters with cutting-edge technology have also been built elsewhere in the world, usually in conjunction with

Rusal total costs of production ($/tonne Ihs, RUB rhs)





nearby sources of low-cost energy. In addition to the extensive development of modern smelters in the Middle East, Rusal is investing in new smelters alongside the parallel development of HEP plants in Russia, and Indian producers are beginning to take advantage of abundant raw materials and cheap energy to expand domestic smelting capacity. Restructuring away from inefficient technology Elsewhere in the world, where energy and labour costs are higher, aluminium producers have recognised that their ageing smelters are becoming increasingly uncompetitive. As a result, international aluminium companies have radically restructured their business models in recent years. In the US, many older smelters have been sold off or closed down, with companies focusing instead upon output of value-added aluminium products for high-tech industries such as automotive or aerospace which crave lightweight metal bodywork and other components. In Europe and Brazil, where energy costs have been prohibitively high in recent years, aluminium producers have progressively shifted away from primary aluminium towards output of lower cost secondary aluminium from recycled metal and scrap. Combining these various factors, we can see how the global aluminium industry has actively driven costs of production lower over the past few years, via investment in cheaper sources of energy and energy efficiency. To this can be added the recent benefits of a strong dollar and falling energy prices. Are lower aluminium prices deflationary or disinflationary? One important measure of whether the aluminium industry faces deflation or disinflation is the question of whether low 17,500

Primary aluminium smelting - energy efficiency (kWh/tonne)









1,900 1,800 Total cost of production, Ihs


Ruble, rhs


Sources: Rusal, Bloomberg 2011


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1,500 1,400 2010







12,500 1995


North America Sources: IAI, Natixis

Europe 1998







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Global demand (ex China): aluminium vs zinc (mn tonnes)





28 9

26 24


Aluminium, Ihs


Zinc, rhs

16 1999










-2,000 -2,500

-2,500 US, galvanised steel minus all-in aluminium 2007



aluminium prices have helped to stimulate demand for the metal. To examine this question, we considered relative price movements versus two of aluminium’s major potential substitutes - copper and galvanised steel - to investigate whether low aluminium prices have contributed to any perceptible change in demand for the metal. For both of these comparisons, we examined global demand excluding China, in an effort to eliminate any potential bias related to China’s rapid economic development. In the case of aluminium versus galvanised steel, there have been periods over the past 15 years in which aluminium has been significantly more expensive than galvanised steel, and periods when the price differential has been more modest, but over the interval as a whole, price differentials have remained broadly unchanged. Zinc demand suffered significantly during the 2008-9 financial crisis, since when it has failed to recover fully. This initial underperformance can be attributed to weakness in both construction and automobile demand around the time of the crisis. Since then, construction has remained relatively weak in many parts of the world. In the automobile industry, a gradual shift away from galvanised steel towards aluminium bodywork has been facilitated by relatively low aluminium prices, but the principal motive for this structural change has been tightening CAFE regulations rather than price considerations.

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Copper, rhs




July/August 2015

Aluminium, Ihs






20 18






US galvanised steel vs aluminium prices ($/tonne)




6 2001






Global demand (ex China): aluminium vs copper (mn tonnes)




8 2005





US copper vs aluminium prices ($/tonne)



all-in US, copper cathode minus aluminium
















Sources: Bloomberg, Natixis

0 2003


In the case of aluminium versus copper, a substitution effect appears more clearly defined. With the rise in copper prices relative to aluminium, so demand for aluminium has risen steadily versus a decline in consumption of copper. We would argue that the combination of low aluminium prices versus high copper prices has encouraged this substitution, hence we would conclude that low aluminium prices have indeed been instrumental in stimulating demand for the metal over the past 15 years, ie price falls have been principally disinflationary rather than deflationary. Are there aspects of the global picture that err in favour of a deflationary argument? It would be wrong of us to suggest that there is no evidence of deflation in the global aluminium industry. One could argue that the deflation which so exercised Keynes in the 1930s was in large part related to the rapid opening up of new economies and new technologies. US industrialisation, supported by the development of the US rail network and accelerated through technologies such as large-scale mechanised mass production may well have contributed to a shortfall in aggregate demand across the global economy. In similar fashion, the rapid development of the Chinese economy over the past two decades may be inflicting similar deflationary effects within the current global economic climate. For aluminium, not only do Chinese smelters have a markedly higher energy efficiency than





1,000 0


older western facilities, but Chinese labour costs remain significantly lower than those in western economies despite their technological advancement. Similarly, for China to have achieved “peak steel” at an average wage of less than $5,000 per capita suggests that workers across these heavy industries may indeed face pressures comparable to those which existed during the 1930s. Conclusion Aluminium prices have been driven lower by substantial investment aimed at reducing energy costs, and these effects have been magnified by a coincidental decline in energy prices and appreciation in the dollar. The decline in aluminium prices has clearly helped to boost demand for aluminium. This is evident from substitution effects between aluminium and copper, while low aluminium prices may also have been an important factor facilitating the development of aluminium body sheet in the automotive industry. This argues that lower aluminium prices reflect disinflation rather than deflation. The experience of the aluminium industry, alongside other heavy industries, nevertheless provides some grounds for wider concern about the potential deflationary effects of China’s rapid industrialisation upon the global economy. Contact Aluminium International Today

7/20/15 4:36 PM


A blast from the past By Tony Kuipers* Secondary production involves melting aluminium in large reverberatory melting furnaces. While this is energy intensive, it requires significantly less energy than primary production, which could cause it to become an increasing part of overall aluminium production. These melting furnaces have thick refractory linings and both operations and controls are optimised to maximise energy efficiency as companies look for ways to reduce costs and lower their environmental footprint. But still, up to 60% of the energy put into a melting furnace is lost as waste heat out of the stack. For years the industry has been looking to recover melting furnace waste heat. Even so, nearly two thirds of the near 400 aluminium melting furnaces in the United States lack any form of waste heat recovery. So, what issues stand in their way? Recovering waste heat from an aluminium melting furnace can be challenging. The exhaust gas temperature is typically around 2,000°F. This poses real challenges for the current heat recovery industry, which is based upon metal materials of construction. Metal heat exchangers are typically limited to environments with process temperature below 1,600°F. Oxidation of the metallic components can reduce tube life, especially during furnace overruns or during a burner malfunction. Melting furnaces commonly add fluxing agents which typically contain Chlorine. Exhaust gases containing Chlorine, combined with elevated temperatures, can be very corrosive to metal heat exchangers, including those constructed from exotic alloys. This can lead to complete tube replacement in less than a year. These issues can make heat recovery on a melting furnace costly and time consuming, and in

two thirds of the industry, non-existent. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the United States was experiencing high energy prices. This led to the government looking for ways to drive energy efficiency in large industries. One product developed during that time was the ceramic tube, which was to be used in a heat exchanger. Companies, such as Norton Ceramics, were working on the materials and manufacturing processes to produce ceramic tubes that could be used in high temperature and highly corrosive environments to recover waste heat energy. The development process was long and costly, and only a few heat exchangers were designed, built and tested using ceramic tubes. The testing focused on aluminium melting furnaces due to the large potential and challenging process environment. As oil prices decreased in the mid 1980s, the push for technology development related to waste heat recovery subsided. Without the government subsidising the development costs, most companies lost interest in developing ceramic heat exchangers. Technology advancements with less time and less capital commitment were prioritised instead. A few individuals continued the development with some technological success, but little market success. The technology transitioned into the chemical industry for low temperature acid heat exchangers where suppliers refined their manufacturing processes but weren’t challenged by the requirements of high temperature operation. In 2006, Heat Transfer International (HTI) acquired technology and IP covering most of the shell and tube ceramic heat exchanger development, which began in the 1980s. There have been many advancements in recent years that have resulted

in HTI’s ability to provide a ceramic heat exchanger for high temperature heat recovery. HTI created a testing facility consisting of multiple furnaces and a full sized 7 tube test stand capable of 2,300+°F and 300psig operation. This has allowed HTI to develop advancements in the remaining technical areas preventing ceramic heat exchangers from being used on melting furnaces. These advancements have resulted in improved sealing and thermal compensation and allows the ceramic heat exchanger to be offered for a range of processes. There are many ceramic materials that could be used in a heat exchanger depending on the environment. These materials can handle temperatures greater than 2,500°F and are considerably more corrosion resistant than alloys, especially at elevated temperatures. Ceramics have great creep resistance and are extremely thermally conductive, which can make them very thermal shock resistant. These aspects make ceramics a good fit for recovering energy from high temperature waste gas containing Chlorine, such as in an aluminium melting furnace. A shell and tube ceramic heat exchanger can be retrofitted into the flue of an existing melting furnace. The 2,000°F exhaust gas can be used to preheat burner air.

*Engineer, Heat Transfer International Aluminium International Today

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Depending on the application, using preheated combustion air can increase melting furnace efficiency by up to 50%. A 30MMBtu/hr melting furnace could save between $250,000 and $500,000 per year depending on the application, gas prices and process parameters. As the aluminium industry looks to become more efficient, they will likely push to secondary melting as aluminium is endlessly recyclable and it requires considerably less energy than primary production. These melting furnaces are good candidates for a ceramic heat exchanger and preheated combustion air system.

cost effective and drive it into a larger portion of the industry. As natural gas prices will likely rise, so could the realised savings and impact on the industry. î ˛ Acknowledgments

Implementing an effective heat recovery solution into the secondary aluminium process will make the process even more

Sustainable Development Indicators for the Aluminium Industry in Europe 2012 Key Facts and Figures, prepared by European Aluminium Association, November 2013 Waste Heat Recovery: - Technology and Opportunities in the U.S. Industry, prepared by BCS, Incorporated, March 2008 Contact

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History and future of dross processing The challenge has always been to melt aluminium at its highest recovery. As the aluminium industry has developed over the past 50 years, the value of aluminium and the view of the oxidation products has changed from one that was thrown away to one that we look to completely recycle. David J Roth* explains.

Aluminium melting generates dross. Dross removal carries out free aluminium. Minimising these two realities has been the charge of companies developing dross processing systems for our industry. The last 50 years has marked real progress in these areas and the industry continues to move forward productively. This article reviews the history and origin of dross processing techniques that have been used in casthouses and melt shops around the world. Both hot and cold techniques will be discussed. An effort will also be made to take a look at what the future will bring for processing this material. There are many types of aluminium dross: White dross, black dross, foundry dross, induction furnace dross and primary aluminium dross just to name a few. Each can have special handling techniques but for this paper I will make only three distinctions of dross types and those will revolve around the temperature of the material. The types I will reference are cold dross (425 – 650oC), hot dross (650 – 780oC) and thermiting dross (Very Hot 780oC+++). The interest in this topic really centres around Fig 1. The aluminium contained in dross is our industry’s baby. It is a small fraction of the casthouses total aluminium mass balance, but it has a significant financial impact. The value of the aluminium at $1800/ton recovered in-house vs. oxide values of 0 - $400/ton puts the emphasis on which material we should maximise in recovering. Aluminium converted to oxides after skimming is money lost forever. The goal of any handling method used in the casthouse is to keep the dross from oxidising past the time when it was removed from the furnace. It is normally accepted that aluminium starts rapid oxidation in the air when its temperature

rises above approximately 780°F. The rate of oxidation increases rapidly as the temperature increases under most conditions.

dross that was shipped out commonly had a very low metal content and was not seen as a valuable product. It was typically landfilled or given away. (Fig. 2)

Historically the dross has been handled as follows:  Hand Picking  Floor Cooling  Stirring  Shaker Tables/Vibrators/Stirrers  Rotary Coolers/Vibrators/Stirrers  Cast Steel Dross Pans  Inert Gas Dross Cooling (IGDC)  Hot Dross Pressing  Hot Rotary Furnace Processing  Cold Mechanical Processing

Floor cooling and picking The floor cooling and picking combination was the second generation of efforts that was done in this basic form of dross recovery (Fig. 3). The dross was spread onto either a refractory, steel plate or aluminium ingot floor. The latter two options, producing better secondary results than the first option. The in house recovered aluminium did not change (5 - 10%) but this was the first movement towards good secondary recovery of the aluminium coming in typically at 25 – 35%, due to the cooling effect of the metal floor. The dust generated from the process was always significant and fork truck tires were short lived when travelling over the hot dross and molten metal. This was the main technology of the 60’s - 70’s. In The 60’s we started to see a change in the way dross was perceived. It started to become a source for aluminium units and not just a back yard problem. Aluminium values were rising. Stirring, Cooling Tables and Rotary Coolers hit the scene.

Fig 1. Throwing out the baby with the bath water

Hot dross stirring Stirring was the first physically active process in the aluminium industry to get wide commercial acceptance. The basic principle was that the hot dross was skimmed directly into a refractory lined cylindrical pot or cast pot. This pot was then transferred to a fabricated frame, which contained a rotating paddle. The pot could be raised into the paddle or the paddle lowered into the pot and then stirred. The processing time averaged about 5 - 10 minutes. After this period of stirring the hole in the bottom was

Hand picking The first and most basic form of aluminium recovery from dross is hand picking. It was simply done by looking at the pile of dross and picking out the solid aluminium metallics that could be easily seen. This was originally the only method of recovery. Typical results would be an aluminium recovery of 5 – 10% of the dross weight. This easy step to recovery is widely done, even today. The remaining *President, GPS Global Solutions, USA

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Fig 2. Hand Picking

Fig 3. Hand Picking and Floor Cooling

“tapped” into a sow mould. If the material was hot going into the process and it was not a “dry” thermited dross, high Al sow recoveries were possible. The recoverable aluminium could range from 35% to 55%. The stirring action of the paddle caused the coalescence of the droplets in the dross/metal matrix, enhancing the drain recovery. The stirring action however also caused increased oxidation of the remaining dross and produced a material with a very low secondary recovery. Of all the technologies available in this period, the stirrer did provide the greatest inhouse drain. (Fig. 4) It’s negative features revolved around the stirring mechanism. The thermiting reaction caused by the stirrer dissolved away the stirring blades. Large amounts of fumes and smoke were also generated and were very difficult to deal with. Cold materials would not stir. Sometimes fluxes were added to colder material to get the thermite reaction to occur losing aluminium units and generating fumes.

action however allowed for a secondary recovery that was not available by the stirring action alone. Secondary recovery would range from 15 - 40% for a total recovery ranging from 35 - 55%. The systems however were high in maintenance and difficult to keep running. Colder dross would not drain and large chunky dross would not flow well or cool well through the system.

Shaker cooling tables/vibrators/ stirrers Water/air cooled shaker tables made their appearance in the market about the same time as the stirrer. Some melting facilities combined the stirrer with the shaker tables, while others combined a vibratory motion to coalesce the aluminium particle to facilitate free metal drain into a sow mould. The process started by hot dross being skimmed into steel fabricated pots and then transferred to the water-cooled shaker system by fork trucks. Once loaded into the system the pots are moved into the portion of either stirring or vibrating device, which ended in “tapping” into a sow mould. After the “tapping” process, the pot is dumped onto a series of covered water-cooled vibratory tables. The hot dross moves down these tables. The tables are hooded so that the fine dust is evacuated into a bag house. The material was typically screened at the end conveyor, recovering the larger aluminium pieces. The drain recovery by the stirring action was in the range of 10 – 20%. The cooling July/August 2015

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Rotary coolers/vibrators/stirrers Rotary coolers replaced the watercooled table system and made their first

Fig 4. Dross Stirrer

Fig 5. Rotary Coolers

commercial appearances in the 1970’s. The major manufacturers were Remetal, MFS, and Waagner-Biro. The rotary cooler generally consists of a large drum, which is externally watercooled, a charging device, a trammel screener on the discharge end of the system and a pollution control system. For safety reasons a back up power supply was always highly recommended. Other items that set the various systems apart were the use of stirrers, vibratory chargers and ball and autogenous milling sections. The dross was skimmed into skim pot/ sow mould combinations. There was no longer the need to “tap” the pots because holes in the skim pots allowed draining as soon as the skimming procedure. (Fig. 5) The skim pots were placed into the charging device and tilted into the water cooled rotating drum. Several methods were used to cool the drum shell ranging from submergence, spray nozzles or lifting flights. The system was good at handling a range of material from cold dross to very hot thermiting dross. The free drain recovery was in the range of 10 – 15%. Slightly higher if a stirring device was used. The cooling action provided by the physical contact with the drum allowed for a very good secondary recovery that was not available by the stirring action alone. Secondary recovery would range from 35 - 50% for a total recovery ranging from 40 - 60%. The mixing action of the drum kept the recovered aluminium in a finer size range than other processes. This was good for overall metal content but limited the secondary recovery process. The safety record of the rotary cooler was not good. Poor maintenance or operating procedures left the process open for the possibility of molten aluminium being poured on top of water or of having contact with oxidised steel. Both of these scenarios opened up the potential for significant explosions. Several units failed in the field with catastrophic results. Maintenance of the systems was very high. Cast steel dross pans A side, but significant development in dross processing efficiency was the use of custom designed cast steel skim pan sets with spontaneous drains. The overall recovery benefits and in house retained metal profits of these designs was the single most important feature of the newer dross processing systems. Remetal SA of Spain was the first to use these pans to their process advantage. STAS followed behind and then it became the norm to design pans around the process that was being used. Aluminium International Today

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The cast steel pans have become the main recovery process in many cases. They allow for efficient drains and quick cooling of the dross if designed properly. Sometimes, eliminating the need for pressing or stirring. These heavy steel pan castings are sometimes provided with lids for cooling and fume control. (Fig. 6) Inert gas dross cooling Inert Gas Dross Cooling (IGDC) an ALCAN developed process was made commercially available by STAS in the early 1990’s. Several “homemade” designs have also now been developed; both types of systems are now used and are seen worldwide. The process starts with skimming into a multi chamber cast steel skim pots that are transferred to “cooling stations”. These stations are then closed and either argon or nitrogen is pumped into the chamber to cut off oxygen available to the dross. The cooling process is long and several units are required for a large melting facility. Some of the pan sets are designed with free drain holes others are not. In house recovery will vary from 0 - 12% and secondary recovery range from 30 - 60%. (Fig. 7) The overall results were very comparable to rotary coolers but without the large maintenance expense. High argon gas expense was one of the drawbacks of the system. This is the reason some users have gone to nitrogen for a cover gas. I cannot comment on the results of that change. The system is good for all dross temperature and it is widely used in the aluminium industry. One of the key feature behind its success was the cast steel multichambered pans that did a good job of cooling on their own account. Hydraulic pressing The hot dross pressing technology was first invented for the zinc industry in the 1920’s. The first commercially marketed pressing system for aluminium was available in the late 1970’s and manufactured by Pechiney in France and Showa in Japan. In the mid 80’s Anaconda Aluminum developed a dross press system that was used in several of its operations. The first commercially successful dross presses were developed and marketed by ALTEK in the early 90’s. Since that time there have been many commercial manufacturers and home made versions of the dross press found around the world. Dross pressing is the most widely used system for hot dross processing used throughout the aluminium industry today. The process of hot dross pressing is based on the observation that if dross is placed under pressure, the liquid metal will separate from the solid oxides and flow to the area of highest pressure (drain Aluminium International Today

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Fig 6. Draining Skim Pan with Lid

Fig 7. IGDC Cooler

hole locations and top head surface). The press system consists of a steel frame, hydraulic unit, press head and skim set. Some presses have attached pollution control units. Dross press technology is really not about the press, but about good skim pan and head designs. High grade steel castings allowing for optimal pressing configurations have made the process what it is today. The skim pot has holes to allow for the natural drain and pressed drain. Good casting designs also promote dross cooling and newer designs optimum skull sizing for down stream processing. Dross pressing provides a good in house drain but not as high as stirrers for hot dross. The maintenance however is much lower and therefore the up time much higher than the stirrers. Pressed dross is rapidly cooled preserving metal units in the process vs. being heated up as in the stirring operation.

The in-house recovery will range from 15 - 40% and the secondary recovery ranges from 30 - 70%. This process gives the best overall recovery of any of the preceding hot processing modes. The process however is not good for all dross, cold dross will not press and thermiting dross tends to destroy the equipment and continues to burn. (Fig. 8)

Fig 8. Pressed Dross

Fig 9. Rotary Furnace Hot Dross Processing

HDP with rotary furnace In plant hot dross processing with a combination of one or multiple tilt rotary furnaces has been a common method of in house dross processing in Asia for many years. The system uses cast steel or refractory lined skim pans for movement of the dross and molten metal, a tilt type rotary furnace, a combustion system (sometimes used and sometimes not used). A pollution control unit for the fume control and some method of containing and cooling the hot oxide product after the aluminium is removed. In the 90’s a few companies in the US and Europe installed systems for their melting and casting facilities. The process is designed around bringing the hot dross directly from the melting furnaces to a rotary furnace. The hot dross, after charging, will tumble with the rotation of the rotary furnace. This rotating action essentially vibrates the dross and once again coalesces the molten aluminium droplets into the bath of the rotary. The operator has ultimate control of this process controlling the processing time and the input of extra the heat via the combustion system if requited. When the molten aluminium is separated from the oxides the operator carefully tips the furnace, holding the oxides in and pours the aluminium out. This recovery method produces a recovered aluminium unit of exactly the same alloy that was just removed from the melting furnace. This metal is more valuable than that which would have been returned from a secondary processor. There typically have been no flux additions so that the oxides produced have a market value or at least have a zero disposal value. Care does have July/August 2015

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to be taken not to over heat the remaining oxide materials. The basic recovery results for processing in this method are very good, nearly 98+% of the available free aluminium. Another feature of the process is that through process observation of the metal content and quality of the dross that is generated from the melting furnaces, operational improvements can be made to lower dross generation and improve dross quality. None of the previously mentioned processes allow for this significant advantage. The system is the most expensive capital expenditure of all the processes listed with the highest annual maintenance and operating cost. It also requires the highest level of skilled operators to work in a reliable manor. (Fig. 9) Mechanical processing Cold mechanical processing has had two time periods of popularity in the aluminium industry with dross generators. First, in the 60’s with the use of ball mill and hammer systems provided by various manufactures and for the past five years with the use of DIDION RT processing systems. (Fig. 10) A few dross generators that were typically secondary aluminium melters attempted mechanical processing in ball mills or hammer mills. Their goal was to get some level of aluminium recovery from the dross they generated and at the same time add value to the oxide products that they would have had to pay to dispose of. The dross would come from the internal melting processes and would have to be pre-sized to go into the mills. Typically mill openings would accept a dross piece no more than 10 - 12” (250 – 300mm), in size. The ball milling process would produce concentrates of aluminium and “ball mill fines”. The concentrates were typically in the 60 - 70% aluminium content range. The system was not good at producing high aluminium concentrates because of “rolling in the oxide”. The system produced high-grade “ball mill” reactive fines which were popular with those companies purchasing these types of materials. Hammer mills accepted smaller feedstock, but the aluminium concentrates were a bit higher and the aluminium loss to the fines was also higher. High operating cost kept these systems from being popular for very long. The DIDION Tumbler system had been used successfully at various secondary dross processors since the mid 90’s. The first unit was sold for use by a dross generator in 2010. The system was the first single piece of equipment that allows for total dross processing in the dross July/August 2015

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generators facility. The system is a unique rotary impact crusher and classifier in one unit. A pollution control unit is required for the systems operation. The properly sized Tumbler requires no pre-sorting of the incoming dross. It works well on normal white dross, black dross and salt cake. It is not effective on cold skimmed white dross or the “ice cream” type materials. The process starts with dross that has been removed from the furnaces that may be hot but contains no molten aluminium. The Tumbler is typically sized for the largest piece of dross produced at the dross generators facility. The system is based on impact crushing the aluminium/ oxide matrix separating the aluminium from the oxides around it. The aluminium, free of most of the oxides is classified by size for in-house melting. Producing concentrates of aluminium typically greater than 85% Al is possible on the +1/4” (6mm) material in the RT unit. The -1/4” (6mm) material if not suitable for in house melting are sold on the open market for their aluminium

Fig 10. DIDION RT Processing

content. The low grade aluminium fines separated from the metallic aluminium in the process are also used in various ways by product industries. The system is simple to operate and does not require highly skilled operators. One system is sized for the operations total dross generation. The capital cost is in the medium level, maintenance and manpower cost are low. Mixed technologies The best technologies are often a mix of existing technologies. In my opinion the best combination of technologies is first the use of a cast steel skim pan designed specifically to the operation where the dross is generated; combining this custom pans with a dross press with properly designed head to maximise recovery and drain. Additionally the pressing action achieves significant plating action of the aluminium droplets into larger +1/4” (6mm) metallics and rapid cooling of the dross for maximum metal preservation.

The DIDION RT unit would then give a clean separation of the maximum amount of metallics for in house melting. This combination would achieve the highest in house recovery keeping the metal at its highest value for the dross generator. It would also produce a high quality oxide product for various by-product uses eliminating any landfill products. Future technologies Those of us who work in this area of dross recycling have to continually ask ourselves how can we make things better. What could we do to be even more effective in dross handling, saving energy units, aluminium units and minimising our industries CO2 generation. I see two technologies that should be developed further. GPS Global Solutions is working on a system to minimise the amount of metal pulled out of the furnaces with the dross. The goal is to cut the amount removed in half from the current averages. Imagine cutting the plants dross generation in half by the use of a unique skimming machine. A significant amount of the dross removed from the furnace is aluminium that should have remained in the furnace. The development of this process has the power to significantly reduce melt losses, energy consumption from remelting metallic concentrates and cause a significant contribution to real CO2 reductions in the area where dross is processed and handled. A system in the Middle East is being developed by the TAHA group, to maximise the molten aluminium recovery from the dross, similar to the high percentage Al recoveries that were available with stirring technology, but much more efficiently. Their technology also allows for total recycling of the oxides to downstream high value by products. These are the type of steps we need to take to achieve the goal of 100% in house recycling and zero dross shipments to outside recycling resources. Summary There is an industry need to keep moving forward in its dross processing technology development. The first step is keeping as much aluminium as possible inside the melting furnace. The next step is keeping as much recycled aluminium in-house for use in the facility that generates it and producing by products that are by nature saleable and not a landfill liability. It has been a long trip but the end is in sight. We have moved forward over the past 50 years. Our industry understands the value of the aluminium and the oxide products and the value of preserving both.  Aluminium International Today

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Best practice in dross management An environmental and sustainable method to process dross at plant level. As an industry, the aluminium sector has long had a poor environmental reputation, owing to both the energy intensity of the smelting process and the waste (dross) produced during the melting process. Traditionally, aluminium is recovered from dross using a dross press and a rotary salt furnace which increases costs to the casthouse and leads to the production of toxic salt cake. In Europe, this salt cake is now seen as so hazardous to the environment that dumping in landfill facilities is no longer permitted. Today, about five million tons of aluminium dross is generated annually all over the world. It is a fact that this number is increasing with each aluminium smelter expansion project. It is about time to think out of the box and search for more sustainable, environmentally friendly dross processing solutions. TAHA International for Industrial Services W.L.L. (TAHA), a Bahrain based company, took the dross challenge seriously by looking at dross what it actually is: A multi component material which consists mainly of entrapped aluminium metal, non-metallic components, chloride and nitride. TAHA’s founders were not convinced that recovering aluminium by reheating aluminium dross in a rotary kiln, adding salt which creates a more complex product that needs extensive processing afterwards, is recognised as best practice in dross management. After an extensive R&D period, 2005 saw the start of a new leading dross recycling technology developed by TAHA in Bahrain. This process consists of two stages: A “hot dross process” stage, which will be implemented close to the client’s casthouse operation and a “cold dross process” stage, which can be either at the clients premises or off site.

TAHA operates a low-energy process that utilises the energy already existing in the freshly removed dross form the furnace without the addition of any salt or other chemicals. Dross is skimmed from the furnace by the casthouse operator into TAHA’s dross box. After the skimming process is completed, TAHA’s operator will collect the dross bucket and transport it to the rotator installation that is attached to the casthouse. The operator installs the dross bucket on the rotators, and then starts the recovery process by tilting the bucket from site to site until liquid metal flows out of the discharging outlets. At this stage, the company recovers up to 90% of recoverable metal, which goes back to the casthouse right away without the need of alloying. Stage 2: Cold-dross processing The second-stage process completes the recovery of virtually all the available aluminium through a meticulous mechanical separation process.

The recovered metal is collected in charging bins, remelted and returned to the casthouse. The remaining residue (< 1% aluminium) is used in a variety of downstream product applications (fertiliser, aluminium trihydrate, refractory applications etc.) completing TAHA’s Zero Waste Solution. This process complies with the definition of “best practice” as it guarantees:  Maximum aluminium recovery  No production of hazardous waste  No material for waste disposal  No environmental pollution by dross Today’s and future challenges of the aluminium industry are the development of technologies that could eliminate waste and improve the economics of the aluminium production. Growing aluminium demand requires leading technologies to handle the accompanied growing volume of aluminium dross towards zero waste.  Contact

Stage 1: Hot-dross processing Hot dross processing has the advantage that it allows the operation to retain the heat energy present in the dross when it was first skimmed, whereas dross that cooled down must be reheated again for further processing. Aluminium International Today

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The value of scrap At the recent CRU World Aluminium conference, Will Savage, Chief Executive of the Aluminium Federation (ALFED), discussed the negative implication of the word ‘scrap’ for what is a valuable resource and examined the challenges posed by growing demand, including inadequate collection. Nadine Firth* caught up with him to find out more. Q. What are the current challenges faced by the aluminium industry with regards to scrap? A. The intrinsic value of aluminium scrap has always been recognised by scrap collectors and the cast metals industry. Recent trends and public demand mean that there is increasingly a recognition of the “green credentials” of recycled aluminium. In the last few years phrases such as “recycled content”, the “circular economy” and “closed loop” production have entered our vocabulary. Novelis, has announced that by 2020 80% of their product, primarily rolled aluminium, will be made using recycled aluminium. Jaguar Land Rover in the UK and a number of other large manufacturing companies now operate “closed loop” aluminium recycling in their plants. The above factors, plus the rising demand for recycled aluminium, as stored energy, means that the availability of recycled aluminium will be constrained, with the resultant upward pressure on prices and availability. Q. Do these challenges differ per region? A. The EU aluminium industry is now a net importer of primary aluminium and is a region of high per capita consumption of aluminium. As a result this should mean a greater availability of aluminium scrap. However this makes the EU, and particularly the UK, a target for countries wishing to buy aluminium scrap. In the GCC there is not yet a sophisticated scrap collection system but as the region expands and the downstream industry grows, there will be a need for a formal collection infrastructure.

Q. Is there a growing demand for the use of aluminium scrap? A. Yes. In regions with power shortages and a predicted rapid increase in per capita consumption of aluminium, for example China, aluminium scrap will be in great demand with the commensurate upward effect on its value. Q. Are the benefits of aluminium scrap widely known or could more be done to promote its qualities? A. If you had asked this question 10 years ago I would have said “no”. In the intervening period there has been a rapid increase in understanding the value of recycled aluminium; this has been reflected in recent shortages and high prices. Q. At the recent CRU World Aluminium conference, you called for a change to the use of the word ‘scrap’. What are your thoughts behind this? A. I picked up on what one of the other conference speakers suggested, which is that the words “scrap” and “waste” have very negative connotations. Aluminium, which has reached the point in its life when it can be recycled, is a valuable commodity, which can be turned into another aluminium component without loss of property. The energy “locked” into aluminium means that it can also be regarded as “stored energy”. We need to drop the word “scrap” and focus on the positive benefits of recycled aluminium. Q. In what ways have you seen the aluminium industry working together to reuse more scrap? A. Historically, end of current life aluminium (you see I’m trying not to

call it scrap) has been collected by a large number of companies through an established network. Today there are large and sophisticated collection companies and increasingly effective domestic collection mechanisms. There is still a long way to go, as we lose several million tonnes to landfill each year, but progress is being made. Q. In what ways does ALFED work with its members to address the issue of scrap? Or is it planning to do more? A. ALFED addresses this issue in a number of ways. We have a long established recycling association who share best practice. ALFED works with the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) to promote domestic recycling of aluminium. ALFED’s education programmes all have, as a strong element, messages about the enormous value of recycling aluminium. Q. In your opinion, what does the short and long-term future hold for aluminium scrap? A. Aluminium will increasingly be regarded as a valuable commodity, not only in the Primary form but also as recycled material. At the CRU conference in Dubai we heard about the exponential growth in the use of aluminium over the next 20 years. Simple economics of supply means that this demand cannot, and will not, be satisfied by Primary Aluminium producers alone. As a result, and as energy becomes an increasingly scarce and expensive commodity, Aluminium “scrap” which takes only 5% of the original energy needed to smelt it, will be in ever increasing demand.

*Editor, Aluminium International Today July/August 2015

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Adding value to the UK extrusion market By Yann Beck* As one might expect, the global aluminium extrusion market is expanding. Greater urbanisation, the increasing acquisition of manufactured goods by the general population in developing countries and the ever-growing need for production methods which are environmentally friendly, all mean that the call around the world for efficient and sustainable aluminium solutions is greater than ever. Between the years 2010 and 2014, worldwide demand for the extruded metal increased by 8% year after year. Certain markets are inevitably growing at a faster rate than others and, not surprisingly, some established markets are slowing down - particularly the 'home' markets; Europe’s share of consumption actually fell from 20% to 14%, with the UK and Ireland only accounting for 160,000 tonnes of extruded aluminium in 2014 a surprisingly small amount considering the population and sophistication of the marketplace. So what are the European and UK markets doing in response? Sapa recognises the need to stimulate growth across a variety of sectors. The building and construction industry is, of course, crucial in stimulating growth in the UK aluminium market. Nearly two thirds of the end-use of extrusions in 2014 globally was in this sector and, worldwide, it is expected to grow at an average of more than 5% per annum over the next few years. Similarly, the transport sector

also represented an impressive 12% of extrusion consumption in 2014 and is expected to continue growing by 5% each year until 2020. The aluminium industry and Sapa are naturally committed to maximising aluminium performance, as its uptake makes both good commercial and environmental sense. The automotive and commercial vehicle sector always presents an interesting opportunity for growth potential, where there is a strong focus on weight saving. Reductions in the weight of car parts by the utilisation of aluminium components is just one example of lightweighting and the subsequent savings in costs and energy that it brings. Sapa is very active in this sector, fully recognising the vital importance of reducing costs, saving energy and lowering vehicle emissions. Similarly, the company is working closely and proactively with the aviation industry to ensure the reduction of greenhouse gases. Sapa is at the forefront of responding to this call for improved sustainability and is championing aluminium and all its inherent properties in order to facilitate innovation and energy-efficient applications through the use of its extrusions. Aluminium solutions Aluminium profiles usually make up one or two components that are part of a larger entity, but the earlier any extruder is brought into the process, the more value

that can be added to the finished product. Long before the aluminium extrusion reaches the end-user, Sapa can add value to the finished component or product throughout the whole supply chain. These areas of additional value might include, for instance, remelt, extrusion design, anodising and fabrication services. Using the automotive market as an example, Sapa considers environmental factors when designing products in order to minimise fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, as a matter of course. Consequently, the market is increasingly seeing aluminium replace steel and copper in vehicular applications, thanks to its formability and energy-absorption qualities as well as its lightness. Delivering the optimum profile In order to deliver holistic solutions, design and fabrication services should always ensure the optimum profile is extruded for each application. Sapa Profiles UK is a four-press operation across three sites, equipped with an installed capacity of more than 50,000 tonnes of extrusions per annum. The company has continuously invested in the most modern extrusion and fabrication equipment and control systems, including long-length profile machining centres and double mitre saws. Sapa’s presses complement each other to give maximum flexibility and with 25,000 different dies for customers across several different industries, the

*Managing Director, Sapa Profiles UK Aluminium International Today

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company is capable of creating extrusions in varying section weights, wall thickness and cut lengths. Sapa invests considerably in CAD modelling, stress analysis and subsequent CAD packages in order to ensure a smooth design process and guarantee the most efficient solution. Design and fabrication services Using section designs that are optimally suited to a particular application, as well as giving detailed advice on stresses, channels and surface finish are seen as essential in this adding of value and ultimately differentiate a simple extrusion supplier from a knowledgeable partner. Turning a component into a finished product involves mechanical fabrication techniques, such as sawing, milling, drilling, turning, tapping and shearing. Again, all these techniques can be vital in adding value to any product and transforming a design into reality. Welding aluminium is very different to welding other metals, such as steel, due to the differences in chemical composition. Metal Inert Gas (MIG), Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) or Friction Stir welding can be used, depending on requirements. Aluminium lends itself to this process. Designing aluminium profiles appropriately can greatly simplify the welding process. Refinements in equipment and materials mean welding has become an increasingly important method of jointing and is another added-value service offered by Sapa. Other processing methods include plastic forming, bending, stretch forming, roller bending and press bending of the aluminium sections. Sometimes, on those rare occasions when aluminium's natural properties are counterproductive to the required performance of the finished product, there are methods to overcome them. For example, whenever aluminium’s high coefficient of thermal conductivity is not wanted, in applications such as windows where low heat transfer is required, there are insulating techniques that can be used to minimise the metal's the inherent ability to conduct (thermal break). The future Despite the relatively low figures of aluminium extrusion consumption in the UK, the market leader Sapa has every reason to be positive about the future. Aluminium’s inherent qualities mean it will always be at the forefront of sustainable manufacturing and there is opportunity to add value to aluminium extrusions through the application of extensive knowledge and design expertise. Sapa is doing everything it can to ensure that customers realise that the material’s qualities and the added benefits of fabrication result in value for their finished products. July/August 2015

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Reshaping the GCC aluminium downstream industry

The King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, KSA

Aside from being popular for its scorching sun, sprawling sands, oil and tourism, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have one of the most exciting developments happening in the field of aluminium. Modar Al Mekdad* explains.

Now, before I dive into talking about the aluminium downstream industry and the various breakthroughs, let me paint a picture of the overall primary aluminium industry in the GCC. How big is the primary aluminium business in the GCC? Primary aluminium production in the Gulf has been increasing over the years to reach five million tonnes annually by 2015, which constitutes 10% of the world primary aluminium production, of which 70% is exported around the world. The growth of the aluminium sector has led to the creation of a number of downstream industries in the GCC supplying local and international market profiles for construction, automobile parts, cable and rolling products for packaging. The total investment in the aluminium industry in the Gulf is currently around US$40 billion. All this investment in the aluminium industry has created a great social impact in the region. In addition to 12,000 direct employments and 30,000 indirect employments, the aluminium industry has helped create many small and medium sized enterprises, providing various technical and logistical services. The GCC states have long realised that their future is an educated and skilled national workforce; consequently all the aluminium industry companies in the region have

invested heavily in training, equal to US$ 20 million annually. Social progress and social responsibility is a key factor that the aluminium industry has been keen to develop and collectively spend around US$ 16 million annually towards contribution to social and community projects. The primary aluminium smelters are technically advanced and this results in the production of the world’s finest quality aluminium. Apart from this they are the lowest cost smelters thanks to the abundant regular supply of energy in the region. Adding to this, they are environmentally clean smelters too. During the last five years, the industry has increased in wastewater recycling by 150% and solid waste recycling by 48% and managed to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) by 15% and fluoride emission by 46%. All the smelters in the GCC have achieved the ISO standard 14001 for environmental management systems and the only smelter in the world to receive environmental award recognition from the United Nation is in the Gulf. So, where does all this primary aluminium go? The downstream of course.

cast/forged aluminium, rods and conductors. As you notice in Fig 1, globally there is a significant balance in the spread of downstream applications whereas in the GCC there is a significant importance for rods and conductors. Table 1 shows significant growth expected in flat rolled products, aluminium extrusions and casting applications in the GCC. This demand is sparked by significant year on year growth in the building and construction sector in the region especially with the iconic events such as Expo 2020 in the UAE, Fifa 2022 in Qatar and accelerated construction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. High amounts of innovation, research and development in the downstream aluminium business, especially in the field of aluminium extrusions in the GCC; have encouraged local sourcing of material and also enhanced export opportunities of GCC material into European markets. I would like to talk about a couple of key landmark case studies in aluminium extrusions, which serve as a testimony to the growing business diversifications in the GCC.

The downstream aluminium industry in the GCC Primary aluminium is further sold as flat rolled products, aluminium extrusions,

Case Study 1: Developing the twisted aluminium profile for the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

*General Manager, Gulf Extrusions Aluminium International Today


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Others Others

Rod & Conductors 13%


Casting & Forging Extrusion

FRP 31%

FRP 25%

Rod & Conductors 29%

Casting & Forging 24%

Fo rgi ng



others shaped and we were able to release the twisted profile smoothly. The and the stakeholders were Rodclients conductors delighted to see the final outcome and this Casting project is yet another testimonial forging which reaffirms the leadership and knowhow of Gulf Extrusions in the field of ExtrusionExtrusions. Aluminium FRP

Extrusion 32%

Ca sti n


Extrusion 32%

Fig 1. Comparison of downstream industries of the World & GCC (Source: CRU) Type of downstream application

Current capacity

Future capacity

Flat Rolled Products

350,000 MT

800,000 MT


450,000 MT

600,000 MT

Rod & Conductors

400,000 MT

400,000 MT


100,000 MT

300,000 MT

Table 1. Current & Future Capacities of Aluminium Downstream in GCC

About the project: t Designer: Netherlands Airport Consultants B.V (NACO) t Consultant: Dar Al Handasah Group t Main contractor: SBG (Saudi Bin Laden Group) t Aluminum and Glass Contractor: United Arab Aluminium Company t Extrusions supplied by: Gulf Extrusions Co LLC

‘Most Innovative Aluminium Product’ by Aluminium 2014, Dusseldorf.

Key statistics: t Total area of Project – 100km2 t 100,000m2 of glass and aluminium

The twisting process - The three stages: Stage 1: We studied the stress distribution in the profile and designed a special machine with pneumatic cylinders. The machine had three clamps which held the profile. A design challenge was to create supports on the panel to distribute the stress created by the twisting load. We had to secure the panel and the connecting grooves from any strain. This was solved by incorporating ribs designed to crack when strained and thus protect the profile.

Unique design feature: t 40,000m2 of Rain Screen Louver System t Aluminium extrusions system has blades transiting from closed to open over a distance of 6m. t Supports the façade by providing wind load connection. Location of the system: In the boarding bridge area and in front of the glass façade Technical challenge: t Design, extrusion and fabrication of twisted profile. t Required twisting of 430mm wide and 6m long aluminum profile from 0° to 60°. t After several failed trials, the project team reached out to the pioneers in aluminium extrusion with the challenge. t Gulf extrusion designed the profile and extruded it. Gulf Extrusions also developed and built the machines to twist the profile. t The twisted profile from Gulf Extrusion has been selected as the July/August 2015


Solution and planning - Making of the twisted profile: Internally, Gulf Extrusions studied the project specifications and came with a special extrusion design for the project. Then the right alloy required for twisting was chosen.

Stage 2: We found that the twist was not consistent and because of the spring effect of the profile, the aluminium fought its way back to its initial position. The solution was to redesign the machine with hydraulic cylinders, reduce the number of clamps to two and we had to trick the metal by twisting it in stages. We had to twist in stages of 30°, then 25° twice and we took it back to a full 0°. This way, we were able to achieve the 60° twist. Stage 3: After successfully twisting the profile, we had the last challenge which was to release the profile from the clamps. So we redesigned the clamps to be ‘Y’

Case Study 2: Setting up the Middle East’s first vertically integrated aluminium supply chain for the automotive industry and beyond When aluminium extrusions in the GCC were known for domestic consumption and architectural applications, a burning desire to cater the global automotive industry and beyond led to the birth of REFCO – the royal engineering fabrication company. Supplying to the automotive industry is not only challenging but also boundary busting in various aspects from production to fabrication, to the supply chain. The automotive industry is one of the strictest when it comes to quality auditing and in order to cater to the automotive industry, companies need to have more than just good quality but also: t A solid downstream business that is world class in its execution of Quality, Cost and Delivery (QCD). t Support ‘Just In Time’ targets of manufacturers in different locations. To build a company of this nature from the UAE was not only a challenge but also a socio-cultural breakthrough. REFCO was born from the recent acquisition of Sport Carrier Limited, a U.K. extruded alloy fabrication and surface treatment specialist that supplied finished alloy products to Aston Martin, BOS, UYT and Webasto. REFCO started with a rapidly expanding manufacturing location in the UAE in close proximity to Gulf Extrusions (L.L.C) and EMAL/DUBAL, the primary raw material supplier. The basic strategy of the acquisition was to obtain the capability and expertise to quickly establish a manufacturing site in the U.A.E. that converts extruded alloy section to components for end product assembly. Finished alloy components were then shipped to company operated regional distribution points in the European Union for ‘just in time’ delivery to existing clientele and into the emerging consumer markets. REFCO today manufactures approximately two million automotive parts, which go into critical applications and involve kinematic movements – sun roof guiderails, roof consoles, cross rails, pull bars to name a few.  Aluminium International Today

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Together for Complete Extrusion Lines

Why Presezzi Extrusion Group? • Because we offer unique projects: we realize our machines step by step with our customers, to reach the most important goal: perfection of the result.

• Because we are dynamic: we enthusiastically carry on every project with the utmost passion and professionalism.

• Because we always look to the future: the quality of our products is the starting point for the design of new solutions projected towards the future, thanks to specific investments in the R&D department.

• Because customer satisfaction is our main goal: our qualified technical office is able to help customers all around the world, providing quick and effective solution.

Extrusion Presses

Profile Packing, Handling and Storage

Gas fired Billet heaters & HT Furnaces

Furnaces Technology

PRESEZZI EXTRUSION S.p.A. Via Rovereto, 1/d - 20871 Vimercate (MB) ITALY -


The first Pro-Form rotary extrusion machinery will be ready soon By Carmelo Maria Brocato*

Fig 1. Pro-Form Machinery

Coining roll


The solidal conductors

Top clamp Feedstock shear

Rear clamp

The Multiport tubes


Extrusion wheel

Shoe with cartridge Main frame Fig 2. Schematic of radial Pro-Form™

*Vice President of the Board, Commercial Director July/August 2015

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Various tubes and profiles

Bus bars and tubes

The name of the company, “Continuus-Properzi”, is composed of two words. The second word, “Properzi”, indicates the name of Mr. Ilario Properzi who in 1947 invented and developed the continuous casting and direct rolling process for non-ferrous products. The first word “Continuus” is a Latin word meaning “continuous”. Therefore, and not by coincidence, the company name represents in two words the essence of our mission. You can interpret this to mean that the company designs and produces the best equipment for “continuous” casting and direct rolling or you can view it as an expression of the company’s dedication to “continuous” innovation and challenge. We could play more with additional analogies about our name, but surely the recent acquisition of the entire know-how in the sector of Continuous Extrusion Lines is one tangible proof of our dedication to “continuous challenges”. As we know, the continuous rotary extrusion machinery was developed in the UK by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Mr. D. Green patented it in 1972 and named the system Conform. During the last few decades these machines were produced under different brand names, mainly in England, but for many different reasons, as more time passed the original machinery supplier continually downsized resulting in a limited number of people with limited technological expertise and limited capabilities. Under the general scenario above described, the entrance of Continuus-Properzi in the sector of Continuous Extrusion Machinery is not a coincidence. This renewed Continuous Extrusion Machinery has been marketed under the name Pro-Form, which stands for “Properzi Forming”. Fig 1 shows a 3D sketch of the Properzi Pro-Form. Using as their feedstock the aluminium or copper rod produced on Continuus-Properzi CCR systems, of which there are more than 250 in production worldwide, the continuous rotary extrusion technology can be utilised for many applications, almost infinite. Just to quote the most utilised:  Al sheathing of steel wires  Al alloy rod direct from cast bar  Cladding of steel wire with aluminium  Solidal cables and conductors  Profiles  Bus bars  Tube and multiport tubes  Rod directly from cast bar and many others

 420mm  500mm

In the standard configuration the Pro-Form machinery includes the following wheel diameters:  300mm

It is now interesting to try to review the working principle of the new ProForm. The raw materials most commonly processed using the Pro-Form machinery are aluminium and copper rod abundantly produced by the several hundred Properzi Rod Mills and the principle of the process is shown schematically in Fig 2. The feedstock is fed into the profiled groove of the Pro-Form wheel by means of a coining roll and the groove closed by a close fitting shoe. The material is prevented from continuing its passage around the wheel by means of an abutment. As a result, high temperatures and pressures are developed in the material, which becomes plastic and finally emerges from the machine through an extrusion die. The product can take a variety of forms including tubes, solids, complex profiles and coaxial products. The feedstock for Pro-Form depends on the size and diameter of the ProForm wheel and the dimensions of the groove, but for small machines, when aluminium is concerned, it is typically 9.5mm diameter rod whereas for larger machines can be rod up to 25mm or continuously cast bar, which is produced immediately upstream of the wheel with a cross section of approximately 1200mm². In the case of rod, the material will be cast into some intermediate shape and will be rolled. If we think to the very important application of Aluminium Cladded Steel (ACS) wire, Continuus-Properzi is the sole company worldwide capable of supplying all the equipment necessary for the production of this important products which find application in overhead conductors, overhead optical fibre ground wire, antennas, etc. Such equipment includes the CCR Line for producing Al rod, the Drawing Machine for high carbon steel, the Pro-Form, the Drawing Machine for ACS wire and finally the Stranding Machine. The advantage of having Properzi as interlocutor for the complete project/process does not need any further explanation. The first Pro-Form machinery with a wheel of 300mm, motorised for producing a wide range of profiles both in copper and aluminium, is in advanced stage of manufacturing and will be ready during the third quarter of this year. The machinery will be installed in our facility at Sordio – Italy – and for some months it will be available for trials with different materials before it will be shipped to the Client. We are very proud of such acquisition and we are positive that the natural integration with the equipment already manuafactured by Continuus-Properzi will give the clients the deserved confidence and serenity. 

Contact Aluminium International Today

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Investing in extrusion A UK aluminium manufacturer is aiming to double its turnover with a complete rebrand to target new markets. Nadine Firth* met with Stefan Kucharczyk** to discuss BAL Group’s plans. BAL Group is a UK-based manufacturer of aluminium extrusion and multi-metal components. The company recently gave itself a new identity to maintain the history and heritage of Birmingham Aluminium, but reflect the international nature of the business today. “Although the name Birmingham Aluminium has served us well, we felt that people might only think of us as a local distributor, so we had to come up with a way to ‘globalise’ the business,” says Stefan Kucharczyk, Managing Director. Extrusion Part of the rebrand was also designed to highlight the expansion into general aluminium extrusion. “We had previously concentrated on heatsinks and our website was mainly aimed at the electronics cooling industry, so we decided to look at moving the business into supplying extrusions in long lengths and looking for the market sectors we need to move into to do that,” says Stefan. More and more, people are realising the benefits that aluminium extrusion can offer: The unique properties of aluminium in combination with the virtually unlimited opportunities the aluminium extrusion process offers to adapt product shape in order to innovate, reduce cost and maximise efficiency. From automotive to architecture, furniture to façades, lifts to lighting, the use of aluminium extrusions is extensive and new applications are being discovered every day. Automotive As one of the UK’s leading aluminium extrusion suppliers, BAL Group has experience in designing and creating aluminium profile solutions. “With the automotive industry growing rapidly in the UK and aluminium being widely chosen as the favourite material for building cars, we decided to try and move in that direction,” explains Stefan. “There have been many changes in the

aluminium industry and it’s been quite volatile the last few years, so now is a good opportunity to actually take a gap in the market and pursue it.” The development of an Innovation Centre by Jaguar Land Rover just down the road has also been a driver for BAL Group to pursue this area. Looking long-term Another area of growth that the company has been advised to concentrate on is

exports. “We want to take the same approach with exports as we are with market sectors – instead of blanketing the market, we are targeting specific areas, so we can do them well,” says Stefan. “I think we always tend to look five years ahead, because in the aluminium industry, it changes pretty quickly, but you’ve got to look ahead of the game and ease our way into market sectors gradually,” he continues. 

BAL Group supplies bonded heatsink design solution BAL Group had been supplying bonded fin heatsinks to Diomed, an independent, privately owned healthcare company, based in the UK, for a number of years. The company, which had developed into a successful business in an industry dominated by giant multi-nationals, bought a range of heatsinks, one of which was a product that required only a small quantity of 30 a year. The company in the USA that were supplying Diomed with the product went out of business, leaving Diomed with a sudden loss of their source of supply. Diomed approached BAL Group due to their extensive expertise in the design and manufacture of heatsinks, with the requirement to redesign the product which under normal circumstances would have been cost prohibitive to produce due to tooling set up costs and the small quantity required. BAL Group rose to the challenge and decided to try and meet the design and thermal performance requirements by redesigning in a cost effective way, a standard bonded fin base. The redesign was achieved in four working days by milling down a standard bonded fin base to the required width and cutting fins from sheet metal. The product is held together by using two smaller pieces of the bonded fin base to form a cube style heatsink, with bracketery made from stainless steel pressings and screwed on with stainless steel screws to match the original. The new design was approved by Diomed on thermal performance requirements. BAL Group also succeeded in removing extensive tooling costs, which would not have been viable due to the small quantity that Diomed required each year.

*Editor, Aluminium International Today **Managing Director, BAL Group July/August 2015

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The anode baking revolution This article looks at an anode baking process that is designed to reduce energy consumption, eliminate hydrocarbon emissions, and improve the quality of anodes produced. By Don Neill*

According to Lazar Anode Technologies, for the first time in the history of the aluminium smelting industry, a carbon anode baking process has been developed that successfully processes carbon anodes through a vertical refractory baking column. Envisioned and developed by Mr Rick Lazarou, a former manager of the Materials Group at COMALCO, the Lazar Continuous Carbon Baking Furnace (CCBF) is a carbon anode baking process designed to offer an alternative to the costly and hazardous baking operations associated with existing ring type technologies.

CIVS Research Centre, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Auckland

Design and proof of concept The Lazar CCBF design efforts were supported by outside professional engineering and testing organisations, including Purdue University Calumet

Fig 1 Proof of Concept Pilot Plant Column

in New Zealand, Harbison Walker International in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, and aluminium smelting business partners. A proof of concept trial held in Pittsburgh in 2007 (Fig. 1) demonstrated the ability to successfully pass green anodes and packing coke through a vertical baking column while extracting pitch binder volatiles from inside the anode pit to the outside of the column. In addition to the successful anode baking, projected results from air quality sampling, column temperature maintenance, volatile deposition on refractory surfaces, and required operator input were all verified.

Company formation After the successful proof-of-concept trials, Lazar Anode Technologies AG, a Switzerland-based

Fig 2 Lazar prototype furnace

*Senior Advisor, Lazar Anode Technologies Aluminium International Today


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Green anode supply EXISTING TECHNOLOGY

JIT delivery


Relative Relative CAPEX CAPEX

“Stack” storage CCBF ORT

Single purpose crane


Multipurpose crane

Furnace “ring”

Hot rodding

Green anode Anode volatiles extraction system

Heating zone

Lazar CCBF JIT delivery




Packing coke




Baked anode CCBF ORT


Reduction cell

Fig 3. Option for Lazar CCBF process by comparison to conventional ring type furnace Joint Venture Company, was formed in 2008 by Mr Lazarou, joined by a consortium of private investment companies and US based industrial partners. A prototype facility, Lazar Anode Technologies LLC, located in Hawesville, Kentucky, United States (Fig. 2) is a full-scale facility producing anodes required by an operating smelter. The Lazar CCBF is protected internationally by patents for all key design and operational aspects.

Competing technologies 1. Ring Type Furnaces Originally designed in the late 19th century, ring type furnaces are large capital-intensive installations. Ring type furnaces have high operating costs due to the intense temperature swings in the heating and cooling cycles necessary to bake and then remove the finished anodes. Routine annual furnace re-builds, as well as periodic partial and complete re-builds, are necessary expenditures costing tens of millions of dollars over the expected life of a ring type furnace. Inconsistent temperature gradients in the baking pits of traditional ring type furnaces also cause variations in anode quality. Most ring type furnaces active today are ‘open top’ designs, which at times emit hazardous pollutants into the work environment. 2. Lazar CCBF The Lazar CCBF is comprised of vertical refractory columns with preheating, heating, and cooling zones. Anodes are baked as a column through a continuous process allowing precise temperature and pass-through rates to produce more consistently baked anodes. As anodes travel downward into the furnace, the gap between the brick walls July/August 2015


and the anodes is filled with packing coke. Volatiles are combusted in the burners in a controlled process, providing calorific value for baking while eliminating most hazardous pollutants. If necessary, the combustion process is augmented by small amounts of natural gas. Following baking, anodes move into the cooling zone. Heat is extracted from the anodes through the refractory walls by the flow of ambient temperature cooling air. The flow of cooling air in this zone is controlled by a combination of dampers and a variable speed fan. This allows anodes to be cooled at a defined rate and extracted from the bottom of the furnace at temperatures below air burn. The Lazar CCBF process uses two human machine interface (HMI) systems to automate functions. One system controls combustion, ensuring that target temperatures are maintained, and monitors furnace pressures. The second system regulates anode movement, packing coke delivery and other auxiliary equipment. In addition, the automated control systems record and archive temperature and anode measurement data. This allows for a record of baking temperature, size, and weight change of each anode baked in the furnace. Alarms built into the system monitor temperatures and process conditions to ensure safe, consistent operation of all furnace components.

Altering the baking cost equation As depicted in Fig. 3, introduction of the Lazar CCBF will fundamentally reduce the overall cost of anode baking for smelters retrofitting existing technology with the Lazar CCBF. This provides greater flexibility in operations and improves environmental impacts.

Fig 4. Lazar CCBF Volatile Extraction System diagram 1. Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) Savings Reduction in CAPEX associated with anode baking includes:  Lower quantities of high-cost dense refractory brick are used in the Lazar CCBF. Furthermore, baking furnace concrete tubs and supports are not necessary.  Less specialised equipment. Automated packing coke movement eliminates the requirement for high-cost multi-purpose cranes.  Fewer rebuilds. The constant temperatures within the Lazar CCBF are much more conducive to long material life.  Highly effective burning of volatiles reduces need for expensive pollution control equipment.  Lower construction costs. The smaller crane removes expensive structural constraints required to support multipurpose cranes used in ring type furnaces.  Lower retooling costs. Flexible design of the Lazar CCBF enables accommodation of anodes of varying height with no structural modifications. Early estimates indicate initial and on-going CAPEX per metric tonne baked in the Lazar CCBF is 35 - 45% less than those baked in a ring type furnace. 2. Operational Expenditure (OPEX) Savings Operating benefits of the Lazar CCBF are derived from these savings:  Lower direct labour cost per anode baked.  Reduced cost for natural gas and packing coke consumed during the baking process.  Potential to eliminate anode handling for cooling and storage.  Significant reduction in refractory maintenance and periodic partial rebuilds. Aluminium International Today

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No multipurpose crane maintenance.

3. Increased flexibility in baking operations The ability of the Lazar CCBF to bake and deliver a continuous supply of anodes will result in:  Smelters that can more efficiently rod anodes at desired temperatures for just-in-time delivery.  More flexible production rate control. Smelter managers can increase or decrease anode production rates to meet current smelter demands. In a conventional operation, overall operating costs of the Lazar CCBF are estimated to be approximately 60% lower than the costs required to operate and maintain a ring type furnace. 4. Other benefits Unlike ring type furnaces, Lazar CCBF modules do not need to be contiguous. They require a much smaller building footprint, allowing for location of sections of the furnace based on process requirements. For example, a CCBF for a 250ktpa smelter would require a total footprint about 30% of that necessary for a ring furnace. The unique features of the Lazar CCBF facilitate the integration of the anode baking process into rodding (hot or conventional) and, consequently, potline operations. This has the added benefit of eliminating storage and reheating costs. As the anodes baked using the Lazar CCBF experience consistent temperature profiles, cracking propagation often caused by variations in heat

up rate is eliminated. In addition, anode electrical properties are optimised, leading to measureable improvements in cell performance during the aluminium smelting process. The Lazar CCBF makes some wasteful and potentially harmful activities unnecessary. It extracts and burns virtually all volatiles emitted by the anodes during the baking process, preventing release into the furnace environment and deposit on furnace refractories. This level of efficiency eliminates the need to scrub volatile emissions (PAH) from furnace off-gas. Fig. 4 shows how the Lazar CCBF volatile extraction system works. Eliminating thermal cycling of refractories also makes using harmful ceramic fibres unnecessary. These reductions in material and environmental hazards result in a safer, cleaner baking process.

Environmental impacts National and local governments are continuously enacting legislation directly focused on regulating major industrial segments. Aluminium producers are increasingly under pressure to reduce both their energy consumption and the associated environmental impact. Traditional open top ring type furnaces are not as efficient as the Lazar CCBF process and generate significant toxins during anode baking. These toxins, primarily tar/pitch, can impregnate refractories and supporting concrete structures. This presents smelters and refractory companies

with safe disposal methodology dilemmas, such as landfills. The Lazar CCBF baking process has an inherently lower environmental impact than conventional ring type furnaces. The consistent output of the CCBF technology enables tighter tolerance in the design of fluoride scrubber systems, lowering costs while providing a safer work environment for on-site personnel.

Conclusions The Lazar CCBF is an environmentally friendly industrial baking process that has resulted from years of intensive research and development, proof of concept pilot plant evaluation, and the construction and operation of a full-scale plant in Hawesville, Kentucky. Its continuous process provides a high level of consistency and unprecedented control over anode baking while maintaining a flexible design to meet varying process requirements. Application of the Lazar CCBF will create significant financial advantages for aluminium smelters by allowing staged replacement of deteriorating infrastructure while providing operating advantages through efficiency, mandated environmental impacts, and modularity. 

For more information, visit:

VII International Congress and Exhibition Krasnoyarsk Russia



September 2015

Organizing committee: The Congress program includes: XXI Conference “Aluminium of Siberia” +7(391) 269-56-47 XI Symposium “Gold of Siberia” IX Conference “Metallurgy of Non-Ferrous and Rare Metals” Mineral and Raw Materials Sources Forum “Dream Cell” Seminar Congress Sections Exhibition Subjects

• Mineral and raw materials sources of non-ferrous and precious metals • Rare-earth metals mining, metallurgy and usage • Alumina and bauxite production • Aluminum reduction technology • Silicon production • Non-ferrous and rare metals production • Precious metals production • Carbon and carbon materials • Casting of non-ferrous metals and alloys. Recycling • Thermal and pressure metal treatment • Management

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• Raw and other materials • Metallurgical machinery • Tools and equipment • Automated process control systems • Equipment maintenance and repair • Transport and logistics • Ecology, wastes processing and disposal, labor protection, operational safety • Consulting, engineering, investment projects • Scientific investigations and innovative R&D projects

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Carbon slipping into a black hole? Carbon materials represent roughly 12% of the total cash cost of making primary aluminium, but play a vital role in the HallHeroult process, given no appropriate substitute has been found. Nowadays, carbon materials have become more crucial in the aluminium industry, where cost control can determine the viability of a plant and hundreds of jobs. Richard Lu* explains

Since the beginning of the year, global aluminium prices have experienced a substantial fall, particularly in the RoW market. In response to the declining prices, RoW producers are seeking to reduce costs in all areas of their operations. Senior managers at aluminium smelters often know the most intricate details of their electricity contracts, and have a deep knowledge of the alumina supply arrangements, but sometimes struggle to keep up with their third most expensive input – carbon. Energy costs rank No.1 in the total cash costs in making aluminium, but power contracts in the RoW are usually signed on a long term. Alumina, the second largest cost, is also often managed on long-term supply contracts. It’s true that an increasing volume of alumina sales are done on an index basis, no longer tied to LME prices, but alumina has continued to track roughly relative to primary metal prices. Carbon prices are different. Carbon is more affected by refining economics than aluminium prices. The material used in the anode in the electrolysis process is called petroleum coke (or petcoke), and is produced as a by-product of the oil refining process. A typical oil refinery might earn less than 1% of its revenue from petroleum coke. Therefore no refinery will determine its mix of crude oils or processing plans according to a by-product, and the needs and demands of the aluminium industry are largely ignored. The US and China are the largest petcoke suppliers around the world, but with slightly different characteristics. The US has greater refining capacity and more advanced technology, so the yield of valuable liquid products is normally higher than that from China’s oil refineries. That is good for refiners because the higher yield of liquid products generates more revenue, but it’s no good for aluminium producers, because less good quality coke is produced in that scenario. The majority of American petcoke is only good for fuel applications, and cannot be used in an anode. To produce the anode that’s used in the electrolysis process, the petcoke must be passed through a calcining operation, which removes moisture and volatile material and modifies the molecular structure of the material, making it perform better in the anode. Most cokes produced in China are calcineable,

which makes them different to the coke produced in the USA. But they often contain levels of sulphur and other impurities that make them less desirable as a feed stock for anodes. In recent years, the US has been making more use of shale oil, as new technologies open up oil fields that were previously too difficult to exploit. Industry experts say that using shale oil in an oil refinery can reduce the amount of coke produced by as much as 75%, while the quality of the material also deteriorates. Even if shale oil is blended with other more conventional crude oils, the volume and quality of the petcoke is still severely impacted. An example of this deterioration is vanadium. Aluminium customers don’t like to have too much vanadium in their petcoke, as it affects the performance of the anode in the process as well as the efficiency of the electrical current. But vanadium levels have been steadily rising, forcing suppliers to search for blend materials to offset this rise, while smelters have had to adjust their work practices. Since the USA is a major exporter of petcoke, often in the calcined form, the reduction in supply of good quality petcoke is starting to affect international customers. China is in a different picture, but may have a similar outcome in terms of coke supply. Rapid economic growth has led China to increase its fleet of oil refineries. But China’s own domestic production of crude oil is declining as wells run dry, forcing China to import more crude. China is now importing about 60% of its crude oil needs. Moreover, along with the update of refining facilities, the production of by-products is falling. Hydrocracking technology is one example where Chinese refineries can apply the technology to extract more value products, which in turn reduces the volume of by-products – Petcoke. As a result, China’s production of petcoke has remained stable at about 25 million metric tonnes for the last three years, despite new refineries being added. But China’s economic growth has also led to an explosion in aluminium smelting capacity. China’s aluminium industry is already double the size it was in 2009. All that aluminium needs an increasing volume of petcoke. It’s true that new smelters

come with improved capability, and China’s unit consumption of petcoke has been falling over the years, but not by as much as the total industry is growing. Net demand from the aluminium sector (petcoke of the quality used in anodes is also used in some other industries) has risen by over 50% since 2011. China is the world’s second largest supplier of petcoke for the international aluminium community. According to our calculations, China’s petcoke supports about 12% of all the aluminium produced outside China, so it is a small but significant supplier. But China’s own aluminium industry is grabbing more and more of the domestic petcoke supply, leaving less available for export. RoW producers have little chance of competing for China’s petcoke against China’s own aluminium industry. Quite apart from the obvious nationalistic preference to support its own industry, there are other factors at work. Chinese smelters have a history of being more flexible when it comes to the properties of the petcoke. Although this habit is changing as China’s smelters become more modern and operate at higher amperages, suppliers of petcoke or calcined petcoke find it easier to sell to domestic customers than to international companies with stricter controls. (China’s tough new environmental laws are bringing a spotlight to the practice of using poor quality petcokes.) Even that preference may play against the international community. China’s government has been tightening rules for the handling and transport of certain fuels, and if those rules extend to petcoke, the material won’t even be allowed to travel to a seaport. AZ China is concerned that the global supply of good quality petcoke for the aluminium industry is getting tighter. We urge boards and senior managers at international aluminium companies to be prepared for this looming problem. Of course the supply situation may change, and there have been plenty of times in the past when it seemed that petcoke supply was running into a hole, but this recent trend is coming in tandem but unattached. The USA is producing less anode quality petcoke because of shale oil, at the same time as China is producing less because of its factors. That’s what makes this time different – it’s two different but parallel trends coinciding. 

*Senior Analyst, AZ China July/August 2015

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In March 2015, Outotec acquired Kempe Engineering, a specialist engineering company providing technology, projects, maintenance, manufacturing and process equipment to aluminium smelters. Through this acquisition, Outotec strengthened its aluminium smelter product range and services portfolio. Manfred Beilstein* explains Bath processing

Rodding shop: Open for business Kempe’s technologies and service products were focused on the anode rodding shop and bath processing facilities, and thus complement Outotec’s product range. Anode rodding shop For the “anode rodding shop”, Outotec now offers a full range of process equipment, including overhead conveyor, ancillary shops for carbon scrap (“butt”) crushing and bath processing, as well as hot bath removal and bath cooling if required. Outotec covers the entire range from turnkey-solutions to individual equipment and operation and maintenance services. Regarding anode configurations, all types of anode configurations currently in use in the industry are available, such as single stub; 2, 3 or 4 in-line stubs; and four

Assembled anode configurations

stub or six stub spider configurations. The anode rodding shop plays an important role in the aluminium smelter operation, as it serves as the linkage between the reduction plant (electrolysis) and the carbon plant, providing the consumable prebaked anodes. At the same time, the rodding shop recycles and reconditions the anode rod assemblies, and receives and prepares the spent anode materials for recycling (anode cover bath, spent carbon, cast iron thimbles). In designing new rodding shops, Outotec’s focus is on improving and optimising process efficiency of the plant. From the perspective of the Rodding Shop, this means, that the intended achievements are to:  Ensure consistent, on demand delivery of rodded anodes to the potline.

Rodded anodes for delivery to potline

 Ensure the quality of the rodded anodes delivered to the potline do not negatively impact the operation of the potline.  Ensure that the operation of the rodding shop itself is cost efficient. Though the focus is on improved process efficiency, at the same time the plant and equipment designers need to take a range of potential variabilities into account, such as those that are presented to the Rodding Shop by the input product (spent anodes from potlines and baked anode blocks from anode baking facility):  Poor butt position on pallets  High bath levels on spent anodes  Broken butts  Air-burn pockets on butts


*Director, Sales & Process Engg Aluminium International Today

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Compressed air blow-off

Chain flail

Scraper station High-powered hydraulic jackhammers

Bath removal  Deteriorated stubs, missing stubs, bent rods  Baked anode tolerances, anode cracks While coping with those variabilities in the input materials, the Rodding Shop process equipment needs to perform within a narrow range of variability, such as in: Bath Cleaning: Hot, cold, middle hardness, height, wings, broken size restrictions Butt Shot Blasting: Achieving reduced sodium levels, waste handling Cross contamination of product streams: Carbon in bath/bath in Carbon/iron in either Stub Cleaning: Stub cleanliness, waste handling, Stub and Rod Reconditioning: Missing, eroded, broken, bent, cast iron sticking Anode Assembly: Stub-hole alignment, rod-block alignment Cast Iron: Chemistry, temperature, delivery Cast Iron Pouring: Pouring accuracy, over-spills, spout cleaning, preheating, cleaning In the conceptual and basic design phase of new plants, Outotec uses 3-D simulations and time and motion studies. A dynamic simulation model is a powerful tool at the design stage to prove that the plant, with all design parameters and assumptions, will operate as intended before committing the investment. The 3-D model of the Rodding Shop, while capturing all the key operational characteristics, will show where potential bottlenecks may exist, and the model can be used to optimize the plant design. After creating the 3-D model, the plant design parameters, the equipment performance data (MTBF-mean time between failures & MTTR-mean time to repair), and the working shifts schedule are being entered into the simulation, and then the simulation is run at high speed and multiple runs to produce the results for analysis. MTBF & MTTR data are based on statistical data from operating plants with similar equipment. The model will help to understand the behaviour and reliability that can be expected from the Rodding Shop at an early stage of design, and help in predicting the expected productivity of the July/August 2015

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Butt shot blast plant with improved precision and with a high degree of confidence, thus assisting to optimise the investment. With respect to key process equipment, Outotec’s focus is on the key operations in the rodding shop:  Automatic pallet loading/unloading stations  Automatic bath removal and butt secondary and fine cleaning  Anode assembly and casting stations Ouotec has designed and supplied a multitude of pallet load/unload stations, as required for different anode configurations and different placement patterns of anodes on pallets. Thus these machines are fully tailor-made for the specific requirements of the project. The latest bath removal and butt cleaning systems are typically designed as multi-stage processing equipment, housed in a common noise and dust containment enclosure. Powerful, hydraulic jack-hammers are installed for primary break-up of the anode cover bath, followed by scrapers/pushers, chain-flailing and blow-off. Shotblasting as the final step is decisive for achieving minimum sodium levels in the spent carbon butt. The shotblasting machine should allow for 360° rotation of the butt assembly for full coverage of the spent carbon surface area. Outotec butt shotblasting machines feature full shot containment with fully closed top seal, and allow for adjustable blasting duration for optimised cleaning. The anode assembly station typically consists of the anode rod and block mating station, assembled anode conveyor with clamping systems for accurate rod to block alignment and the semi-automatic cast iron pouring unit. The Cast Iron Pouring Unit features:  Accurate and quick ladle tilt control using latest VFD drives  Ladle tilting centre is at the spout, however, the main bearings are away from the heat source.  Near auto-pouring by using latest control and programming features Carbon scrap recycling For carbon scrap (butt) crushing, Outotec’s solution is the two-stage crushing process, which has been successfully implemented in numerous

Anode assembly plants over the world, with the key equipment being a primary crusher, such as the Outotec Hydraulic Anode Crusher, and a cone crusher as secondary crusher. Throughput rates are typically 30 – 40 t/h, with the crushed product typically being <20mm, ready for use as coarse fraction in the anode dry aggregate. Bath processing and anode cover bath preparation In the bath processing area, Outotec is a leading supplier for turnkey installations for the crushing and recycling of anode cover bath and scooped bath from the potlines, including the preparation of “anode cover material” by blending of crushed bath with secondary alumina in a preset ratio.

Hydraulic anode crusher For the cooling of “hot” bath from approx. 800-850°C to <80°C, Outotec supplies aprontype cooling conveyors, as well as vertical shafttype cooling towers, which are “four pass counter-current” air heat exchangers. The latter are the preferred solution, if a limited footprint is available only for the bath cooling plant. Conclusion The ability to supply the entire anode rodding shop and the associated carbon scrap recycling and bath processing plants form one source as a total package on a turnkey basis, makes Outotec unique as a supplier to the aluminium industry.  Aluminium International Today

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How lighter can be safer

Carmakers already know. Their challenge is in convincing consumers that the lighter cars they are building are safer than heavier ones. How can they be sure that lighter is safer? By Kevin Widlic* Fifty years ago, Volvo, the carmaker that sells safety, ordered its first sets of aluminium bumper beams from a modestly sized extrusion plant in Raufoss, Norway. Volvo brought these new solutions into use the following year, in August 1966, when it presented its new 4-door sedan, the Volvo 144. In its product marketing, the carmaker pointed out the “many new safety features” in the Volvo 144. These included “the body with its energy-absorbing zones front and rear.” Volvo didn’t explicitly mention the use of aluminium in these systems. It was a new application with a relatively new material. But times have changed. Ford now utilises a “high-strength, military grade, aluminium-alloy body” in its lighter – and safer – F-150 pickup. Driving safely with Tesla Ford is not alone. From rugged gasolinedriven trucks to sporty plug-in sedans, aluminium is becoming the hot metal in the automotive industry. Tesla’s battery-operated Model S, built mostly with aluminium, is one of only three vehicles ever to receive the highest possible safety ratings from both the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) and in every subcategory from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The achievement is impressive because Euro NCAP and NHTSA emphasise different safety aspects in their respective assessments. NHTSA concentrates on structural and restraint safety. It measures the vehicle’s ability to withstand and absorb the energy of an impact while protecting its occupants, mainly adult occupants.

Subcategories include frontal impact, side impact and rollover. Meanwhile, Euro NCAP covers scenarios that include active safety, including tests for child and pedestrian safety. In addition, the organisation adjusts its standards annually to account for technological advances in the industry. Different ways When involved in head-on collisions used for its NHTSA tests, the cab of Ford’s new F-150 was barely affected. By the way, the new pickup received a higher safety rating than the previous, heavier model. In addition to supplying structural aluminium solutions for the 2015 F-150, Sapa is providing Ford with ongoing development support for future extrusion applications. The global aluminium solutions company also works in a similar way with Tesla. Product development director Jonas Bjuhr of Sapa notes that there are differences in developing applications for electric vehicles and for vehicles with more traditional powertrain technology. “The overall crash requirements are the same regardless of powertrain, but what is different is that batteries need to be protected in case of a crash in a different way,” he says. “Here, extrusions can help by providing a structural frame to protect the batteries and, at the same time, helping with the overall crash worthiness of the vehicle. If fully electric vehicles are designed from scratch, then this also opens up for considering a different vehicle body architecture, and again, this can open up for use of extrusions in a slightly different way.”

Components production at the Sapa plant in Sidney, Ohio.

Al is not just Al Kilo for kilo, aluminum can absorb twice as much crash energy as steel. It is this malleability that provides the metal with better crumple zone reaction. The US Aluminum Association states that, pound for pound, the light metal absorbs twice the crash energy of steel and performs as well in an accident. It also provides advantages in stopping distance, handling and performance. When the unforeseen occurs, lighter cars are easier to manoeuvre and correct. Aluminium is one of the materials that is making cars lighter. That said, aluminium is not just aluminium. The ability to adjust many of the physical characteristics of the metal ensures that carmakers can choose the best aluminium alloys for the solution needed. Back in the days of the Volvo 144, engineers and OEMs believed that the mechanical testing of aluminium extrusion-based crash systems was defined by the designed shape and the mechanical

*Director, External Communications, Sapa July/August 2015


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specification known as TY&E (tensile strength, yield strength and elongation). This is not the case. There is no metallurgical correlation between the TY&E properties and the ductility behaviour of the extrusion, says Bjuhr. “Only suitable ductility testing defines an extrusion as being appropriate for crash absorption, or not,” he says. “The conclusion is that carmakers need to work with aluminium extrusion experts so that they do not experience higher costs, poor performance and suboptimum car body safety performance.” Defined classes Sapa has a long history of developing crushable aluminium profiles, and the knowledge that the global company has acquired in impact energy management has continued to grow, not only on the application side, but with the metal. Today, Sapa offers expertise and a range of customised extrusions for automotive applications in three defined strength classes – C20, C24, C28 – and is already at work developing a fully functional C32 alloy. With the C28, Sapa found that the standard alloys 6082 and 6061 proved strong enough but not good enough in crash performance. The new 6000-series alloy was developed through careful microstructure design and process control. “Every process step is important,” says Stanislaw Zajac, a Sapa microstructure expert. “Failure in any of the steps will impact the microstructure and the final crash performance.” Models for behaviour Professor Magnus Langseth heads the Structural Impact Laboratory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. He and his colleagues have researched the use of aluminium in the automotive industry since the establishment of SIMLab in 2007. “We don’t know much about cars, but we know a lot about aluminium,” says Langseth, in an article published by NTNU. He says that because all development in the automotive industry takes place with help from computers, carmakers need models that “describe the behaviour” of the materials used in automobiles. SIMlab makes these models, which are based on the physics of a problem that they wish to solve. “You must optimise the material with the shape. That’s what you can do with computer simulation. You can test and test, but if you use a computer simulation, you can put it on in the afternoon when you go home from work, and find it ready when you come back the next morning,” Aluminium International Today



says Langseth. In the article, Langseth points out that one cubic millimetre of aluminium has just as many grains as on a beach, and that at this microscopic level, scientists are working to understand how whole constructions function. What they have discovered is that “something probably happens in the space between these grain sizes that one needs to know more about.” This year, SIMLab opened a centre for Advanced Structural Analysis (CASA). Its automotive partners include Audi, Benteler Aluminium Systems, BMW, Toyota Motor Europe and Sapa. In addition to its work toward the automotive industry, the new centre will broaden its scope to include those who use lightweight materials in applications dealing with oil and gas, and terror security. No cost to safety For more than 20 years, the automotive industry in the United States has taken part in studies to determine the safety impact of lighter cars made of materials such as aluminium. Its partners have included the Department of Energy, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other national labs, and universities such as Stanford and the University of Michigan. The Oak Ridge lab in Tennessee has a team of researchers who work to improve vehicle design and to encourage technological innovation that can make lighter vehicles safer. One of their instruments is a test machine for automotive crashworthiness (TMAC), according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Review. Using the TMAC, researchers can study the deformation and failure response of composite components in relation to impact velocity in a controlled and programmable

manner. In other words, quantifying the energy absorbed divided by the mass of the material crushed. Furthermore, the Oak Ridge team has developed computer models of vehicles with bodies made of composites, regular steel, high-strength steel and aluminium. The team also produced detailed models of different vehicles after disassembling the actual cars and measuring the parts. As with the SIMLab in Norway, the work being performed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory – and many other institutions – is being done to ensure that the emergence of lightweight vehicles does not come at the cost of safety. Design safety Regardless of how much they weigh, passenger cars and other light vehicles have grown safer through the years. This is clear – and it is not only because of aluminium. The light metal certainly has contributed, because the beauty of aluminium is that its characteristics suitably match many of the needs of the carmaker. But there will always be a need to combine different materials. Most cars cannot and should not be all aluminium. And at the end of the assembly line, research and innovation and fundamental physics will not carry the day – not as long as people are still driving. “No matter how well your car is built,” writes US-based mechanical designer Kyle Maxey, “the best measure of safety is always a focussed driver in complete control of his or her car. But when external events cause that system to break down, it’s good to know that engineers have pushed the limits to design safety into the vehicle’s handling and frame.”  Patrick Lawlor, President, Sapa Extrusions stands with a Ford F-150.

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Making way for modern aluminium As aluminium continues to displace steel in automotive production due to its safety, environmental and efficiency benefits, Constellium is armed to meet this increased demand. Nadine Firth* met with Catherine Athènes**, Lionel Chapis*** and Dr Andreas Afseth**** to discuss the company’s investment plans. In January 2015, Constellium announced the acquisition of Wise Metals Intermediate Holdings LLC (Wise), a private aluminium sheet producer located in Alabama, USA. The acquisition of Wise, which has the widest hot strip mill in North America, provided Constellium with immediate access to 450 kilo metric tons (kt) of hot mill capacity. “We are currently investing to keep up with the demand for increasing automotive capacity,” says Catherine Athènes. “We plan to invest up to $750 million by 2022 to increase Wise’s current hot mill capacity to more than 700 kt and build 200 kt of dedicated Body-inWhite (BiW) finishing capacity to serve the rapidly growing automotive market.” Constellium estimates that the North American market for BiW aluminium rolled products could grow from less than 100 kt in 2012 to approximately 2,000 kt by 2025. “We are making investment in this area of the industry because we know there is a demand,” continues Athènes. This acquisition is strategically aligned with Constellium’s objective of continuing to grow in this high value-added market, as evidenced by its leadership position in the European automotive market as well as its recent investments in BiW capacity in the USA and Europe. “We are increasing our automotive sheet production in Europe by 140,000 tonnes and we have already announced

“We are currently investing to keep up with the demand for increasing automotive capacity. ” Catherine Athènes

the construction of two BiW finishing lines in the USA to supply 200,000 tonnes in 2016 and 2018,” says Athènes. “We are seeing faster growth in the USA, as they tend to use more aluminium per car, whereas in Europe the growth has started earlier and is more progressive, with a part by part substitution.” The beginning of the year saw Constellium announce that it will provide aluminium structural parts for the all-new Ford F-150 pickup truck that extensively uses high-strength, military-grade, aluminium alloy as a build material. “The industry has changed from 10 years ago when you saw more niche, luxury cars using aluminium,” says Lionel Chapis. “The recent trend of lightweighting, coupled with strict crash performance regulations, has seen aluminium systems integrated into high volume cars like the Ford F-150.” Why aluminium? The benefits of aluminium are widely

documented and Constellium’s knowledge and experience of working with the metal, means its products utilise its qualities. “Our core business is really to transform aluminium and because of this current market perspective and demand, it is a very relevant solution to the challenge that the automotive industry is facing,” says Chapis. “In addition to increasing capacity for existing products, we are also increasing our research and development (R&D) efforts by developing new families of alloys,” says Dr Afseth. “What differentiates Constellium is we know what it means to develop products, to do the R&D and to bring innovative solutions to the market. Modern cars are quite complex and by working with aluminium we can achieve the technology standards required.” Investing in R&D Back in 2013, Constellium announced that in collaboration with Brunel University

*Editor, Aluminium International Today **Marketing Director, Packing & Automotive Rolled Products Group Sustainability Council Leader ***Managing Director Automotive Structures ****R&D Group Manager July/August 2015

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and Jaguar Land Rover, it obtained an unprecedented £4.4M (Euro 5.1M) grant allocation from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the United Kingdom for the creation of a national scale-up facility for automotive light metals research. The goal of the ‘Advanced Light Metals Processing Research Centre’ is to bridge the gap between fundamental research and industrial applications. Constellium is co-director of the Centre and has full access for research and development projects. The Centre’s aim is to provide highperformance light alloys, resourceefficient casting technologies, extrusion processing technologies and component innovations to meet the mid- and longterm needs of the automotive industry. “Our position at the Centre is clearly focussed on new alloys for extrusion, so we are putting in place the equipment to be able to do prototypes,” says Chapis. “There are already projects up and running, some of which are just being commissioned and about to start. The key driver is to make sure we continue on the path of getting high strength solutions to further lightweight aluminium products.”

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“In addition to increasing capacity for existing products, we are also increasing our R&D efforts by developing new families of alloys.

Dr Afseth Trends and challenges “The interesting thing with aluminium usage in cars is it’s almost becoming a non-event,” continues Chapis. “It’s now part of the way automotive manufacturers are designing future models.” But even a non-event can still bring a lot of challenges. “As a partner to original equipment manufacturers (OEMS), there are a lot of technical challenges that it is our job to solve,” says Dr Afseth. “It’s not just about building a new line, it is building multiple new lines at the same time and having the capacity and the people to do it. New lines also bring a lot of new technology. “Yes it’s a challenge, but a positive one. At a time of such exciting growth, it creates

a buzz within the company. And since we have a fundamental understanding and the consistency, it’s not such a challenge to bring new people up to speed.” Cans vs cars And it seems this drive towards meeting automotive demand doesn’t seem to have distracted Constellium from its focus on the can sheet market. “Our can sheet business remains a pillar business,” says Athènes. “Worldwide, there is plenty of rolling capacity and if you look at what we are doing with Wise, we are keeping the can stock production and developing the business by adding capacity for automotive.”

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Bonding over technology Novelis recently announced the signing of a long-term agreement with Henkel Adhesive Technologies, a solution provider for adhesives, sealants and functional coatings, to collaborate on the development of advanced, adhesive bonding technologies for the use of aluminium in high-volume vehicles. Nadine Firth* spoke with Todd Summe** about this partnership. 1. What does this partnership mean for both Novelis and Henkel? A. Novelis and Henkel are poised to set a new standard in the global auto industry, bringing added performance and versatility to the manufacturing process. This partnership brings together two leaders in the automotive industry. Novelis is one of the largest producers of aluminium automotive sheet and a technology partner to automakers worldwide. Henkel is a leader in innovating technologies for light metal applications, including aluminium. Its BONDERITE C-IC 243 aluminium cleaner is the standard among automakers for use in current aluminium coating applications.

4. Is Novelis already seeing a growth in the demand for automotive aluminium sheet? A. Absolutely. We expect automotive aluminium sheet demand to grow by approximately 30% each year through the end of the decade. Novelis projects its automotive shipments will grow from approximately nine percent of total shipments globally today to 25% of shipments by the end of fiscal year 2020. According to Ducker Worldwide, aluminium will account for 550 pounds of weight in every North American produced light vehicle by the time 2025 fuel economy standards take effect in the U.S.

2. Are there other research and development projects in place? A. Yes. BONDERITE M-NT 8453 represents the companies’ first joint development project to drive light weighting in the automotive market. However, Novelis and Henkel’s shared commitment to technology innovation sets the groundwork for the development of other advanced bonding technologies for the use of aluminum in high-volume vehicles.

5. If so, how is Novelis working to meet this growing demand? A. Novelis has invested more than $550 million to increase its global automotive sheet capacity to 900,000 tons per year, and 40% of the research/testing projects underway at the Novelis Global Research & Technology Centre are for the automotive market.

3. What does this partnership mean for the aluminium industry? A. The goal is for next-generation solutions like BONDERITE M-NT 8453 to be adopted broadly by the aluminium supply base, free from licensing, to encourage wide spread adoption of aluminium and ensure long term success for the industry and OEM partners. This product offers the latest evolution in aluminium surface pre-treatments, providing a cost-effective adhesive bonding system for the most demanding vehicle requirements.

6. What products will be launched as a result of this partnership? A. The first product jointly developed by Novelis and Henkel is BONDERITE M-NT 8453, which has performance characteristics equal to any other available pre-treatments in the market. 7. How have these bonding technologies been developed? A. BONDERITE M-NT 8453 was jointly developed by scientists at Henkel’s Madison Heights, Michigan facility and at the Novelis Global Research and Technology Centre in Kennesaw, Georgia.

8. How will these products be applied and made available in the marketplace? A. BONDERITE M-NT 8453 is initially being manufactured at Henkel’s Warren, Michigan, plant and will be offered by Novelis to all of its global customers in all three major automotive producing regions of the world: North America, Europe and Asia. Henkel will also market this solution to other automotive aluminium sheet manufacturers. 9. Are there any other areas of technology/innovation that Novelis is considering developing to continue to make aluminiumintensive vehicles a reality? A. As part of our commitment to innovation, Novelis is continuing to advance aluminium’s role as a material of choice among the world’s automakers building upon our 40-year track record of technical excellence. Novelis engineers and scientists in our R&D centres are constantly at work to develop new alloys, innovative applications and revolutionary designs that leverage the unique properties of rolled aluminium auto sheet to create stunningly beautiful high performance vehicles. For instance, we are hard at work developing new alloys for automotive applications that leverage a higher recycled content, adding even more sustainable efficiencies into the automotive supply chain. And we are continuously optimising our manufacturing process, working closely with our partners to advance how they work with our products in joining and assembly, forming and finishing. 

Check out BONDERITE M-NT 8453 in action: *Editor, Aluminium International Today **Global Technology Director, Automotive, Novelis July/August 2015


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Right material: Right place The Ford F-150

The current fascination with composite materials could leave the impression that aluminium’s place in the automotive sector could be under threat. Ian Oliver* reports from the recent Global Automotive Lightweight Materials conference in London.

Until very recently steel dominated automotive manufacturing, with materials such as aluminium, plastics and composites the preserve of niche marques and component manufacturers. But in recent years, the mounting need to reduce body weight, to meet everstricter legislative demands and maintain performance levels while accommodating growing equipment levels, has forced manufacturers to consider radical changes in the materials they use. The 2015 London conference brought together a wide array of speakers, exhibitors and more than 100 delegates with an interest in vehicle lightweighting. More than 20 case studies were presented by vehicle manufacturers, Tier 1 suppliers and material suppliers. Exhibits included a Ford GT40 body, a Mercedes-Benz W205 C-class body and a Jaguar F-Type body, courtesy of exhibitor Stadco. Dr Carsten Finkeldey of Mercedes-Benz described the current C-Class model, which features greater use of aluminium in its structure, resulting in a 40kg weight saving compared with its predecessor. Aluminium represents 25% of the bodyin-white (BiW), and almost half of the vehicle’s surface area. The use of die-cast aluminium in the structure also gives it greater rigidity, while high-strength steel helps minimise intrusions resulting from

collisions. The new ‘hybrid’ structure uses a variety of joining techniques: Laser welding, clinching, riveting and more than 180 metres of adhesive bonding. The new vehicle architecture will be the basis of more than 10 Mercedes-Benz models, the C-Class itself being produced at the rate of 1,000 per day across four continents. The undoubted current standard bearer for aluminium-intensive vehicles is Ford’s most popular product – the F-150 pickup. Ford switched from steel to aluminium for this model’s body on account of the metal’s lightness and durability, according to the company’s Bruno Barthelmy. Removing 700 pounds of weight from the F-150 allows Ford to claim the best fuel efficiency in the category. Previous aluminium vehicles such as the Jaguar XJ and Audi A8 have been built in relatively small numbers. The F-150, in contrast marks aluminium’s debut as a massmarket material: Ford’s two F-150 plants can build in the region of 700,000 pickups annually. The body structure of Ford’s 1993 Sable Aluminium Intensive Vehicle had been 90% 5000 series aluminium. Things have moved on since then – the new F-150 body structure comprises 54% 6000 series aluminium; 26% post-forming heat treatment 6000 series aluminium; 12% 5000 series aluminium and 8% steel.

Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) lightweighting journey was described by Simon Black. JLR’s mission was ‘to meet the CO2 challenge with vehicles our customers desire’, a holistic approach that had begun with the aluminium-bodied XJ of 2002, and continues to this day with the launch of the aluminium-intensive XE, F-Pace and XF models. While pioneering the use of structural aluminium, which has yielded weight savings of around 40%, JLR is also looking at composites in order to produce lighter, stiffer, more dynamic structures. Carbon fibre should not be seen simply as a metal substitute, Simon Black suggested. It enables a whole new approach – part integration – resulting in fewer components for any given vehicle. JLR is already using composites, for example for the Evoque tailgate and the F-Type roof. So could composites replace metals? Not in the immediate future, certainly. The cost is still too high for it to become a mass market reality. Better supplier integration would be needed, and the end goal may be to have in-house manufacture, as undertaken by BMW. Such a radical shift would require a big investment in new facilities, and there are issues around joining techniques and creating a global repair network. Moreover, the scrap rates of some processes are currently too

*Aluminium Federation UK (ALFED) Aluminium International Today


July/August 2015

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high – and there is no equivalent of the aluminium closed-loop system for carbon fibre recycling. Sapa’s Jonas Bjuhr focused on e-mobility – a range of technologies encompassing full electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and vehicles using hydrogen fuel cell technology. Lightweighting is critical in this area, not only in the body structure but also in components such as aluminium battery cases and the substitution of aluminium for copper in electrical cabling. Another strong card in aluminium’s hand is sustainability. JLR’s Adrian Tautscher addressed the challenges his company has faced in pioneering the use of recycled aluminium in its vehicles. The new Range Rover Sport model’s aluminium body and chassis is 42% lighter than its predecessor, but at the same time is more than twice as stiff, improving vehicle dynamics. JLR’s Realcar project delivered a high iron tolerant alloy that allows all press shop scrap to be recycled into the alloy. This closed-loop system results in up to 50% of the vehicle’s aluminium comprising recycled metal. A follow-on project – Realcar 2 – is currently looking at the possibility of using

post-consumer aluminium waste and aluminium from end-of-life vehicles to boost secondary aluminium content by a further 25%.

Jaguar F-Type

The consensus from the conference was that no single material provided all the answers to car-makers’ questions. Composites will have a growing role, especially in low-volume and niche vehicles, but there are currently issues around volume production, repair and

sustainability. And steel is very much alive and kicking, with new opportunities promised by high-strength steel, and body structures combining both steel and aluminium. And what of aluminium itself? It’s easy to forget that in many ways aluminium is a relatively new material, available on a commercial scale only in the past century. While it is hard to see massmarket manufacturers following JLR in offering an all-aluminium model range, individual aluminium-intensive models such as the 2016 Cadillac CT6 will feature increasingly. Aluminium alloys previously confined to the aerospace sector are now being considered for automotive use, and research into new alloys and joining technologies promises an exciting future. What seems certain is the continuing rise of the ‘mixed material’ vehicle, with increased aluminium content in selected body panels and mechanical components delivering lightweighting, stiffness and recycling benefits. Rather than a single winner in the competition between materials, the future of automotive manufacturing will be a case of ‘the right material in the right place’. 


Urja answers With a name that means ‘energy’, Urja Products is dedicated to fabrics that help in conserving energy. Mr Janak Nanavaty* and Mr Anshul Nanavaty* spoke to Aluminium International Today. 1. What products does Urja offer? In regards to the aluminium industry, Urja offers fibre glass fabrics and tailor made articles like Combo bags, Spout socks, Funnels, launder socks etc for filtration of molten aluminium and covers (Lids) for insulation of launders. 2. How do the filtration products work with aluminium? It’s imperative to filter molten aluminium. This could be done through two common techniques – ceramic form filters or fibre glass fabrics and articles made there from. 3. Can you explain this process? Oxides are generated when molten aluminium comes in contact with oxygen. This chemical reaction occurs at high temperatures. These oxides must be removed before the metal is cast.

4. What area of aluminium production are the products used? Just before the final casting is done. 5. Has Urja worked towards making its products environmentally friendly? Our products are non hazardous to the environment. But considering the fumes that arise when molten aluminium is poured on fibreglass fabrics, we have developed a special technique so that our products generate less fumes . 6. How is the current aluminium market affecting Urja? With an increase in the usage of aluminium in the automobile and recycling industry, Urja is growing at a steady rate.

7. How do you view Urja’s development? Urja has developed its product range by starting from simple rolled goods to manufacturing Combo bags, Stiff fabrics for Pistons, rigid bags for ingots and now has added cable protection sleeves, launder insulating lids and Gloves to its product range. 8. What does the company have in store for 2015/16? A new facility with adequate infrastructure and upgraded machinery will be in force from mid 2016. t

*Director, Urja Products July/August 2015


Aluminium International Today

7/21/15 11:26 AM


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