Circular Aluminium Action Plan
The circular economy is an alternative that makes it possible to separate economic growth from the consumption of resources and environmental deterioration. It is a promising option, capable of solving environmental challenges while creating new business opportunities.
It has a much broader approach than just dealing with the waste. The circular economy covers the entire value chain: design, production, consumption and recycling, to turn the waste back into resources.
During the last few years GHI has dedicated a large part of its technological effort to achieve a better use of the resources used in the aluminium smelting and recovery processes. GHI’s own values and the demand from the aluminium sector in favour of the circular economy have led to the development of technologies that benefit this objective.
Aluminium, a vital strategic resource
European Aluminium launched its own Circular Aluminium Action Plan, a strategy for achieving aluminium’s full potential for a circular economy by 2030. It demands from the leading equipment suppliers the development of competitive technologies and mechanisms to recover major part of the slag and aluminium scrap used in the sector.
Aluminium is a circular material, capable of being recycled over and over again without losing its properties such as lightness, conductivity, formability, durability and permeability.
All these properties make it a vital strategic resource in a circular and climate-neutral economy. For such key sectors as construction, packaging, renewable energy or transport, aluminium is the material of the future and its use helps them to achieve their own CO2 targets, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
All this explains the expected 40% growth in the demand for aluminium between 2019 and 2050.
Some facts about aluminium recycling
The European Green Deal, proposed by the EU in December 2019 established the regulatory framework in order to decouple economic growth from increasing pressure on natural resources and the depletion of biodiversity. Half of all greenhouse gas emissions and over 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from the extraction and processing of primary resources.
According to the plan of the European Aluminium Association, recycled aluminium already accounts for 36 % of the supplies in Europe. But the real opportunities are yet to come. If certain specific conditions will be met, by the middle of this century 50% of the EU’s demand for aluminium could be supplied by recycling aluminium.
The estimates show that 16 million tons of aluminium will be used in 2030 and 18 million tons in 2050. Part of the anticipated growth in demand is expected to be generated by the substitution of other materials such as steel, copper, plastics, PVC, wood, depending on the markets.
The benefits of more aluminium being recycled are significant. According to European Aluminium’s estimations, by 2050 the amount of aluminium available for recycling will more than double. With a well-implemented policy framework, increasing the recycling of aluminium could avoid up to 39 million tons of CO2 per year by 2050.
Consequently, the amount of imported aluminium would also decrease. It will reduce the dependence on imports from Europe and at the same time it will generate 6,000 million euros per year for the European economy.
Objectives of the Action Plan for Circular Aluminium
The general objectives of European Aluminium are:
- Maximize the collection and reduce losses
- Improve scrap sorting and pre-treatment
- Maximize the potential of decarbonization
- Promote investment in recycling activities.
The circular economy offers the opportunity to boost competitiveness by using its resources in the most efficient way, reinventing business models and creating new opportunities for work and growth.
Achieving ambitious recycling rates of aluminium will require efforts from both industry and the environment in order for aluminium to reach its full potential contribution to the circular economy in 2030.
GHI is committed to achieving the circularity of aluminium
The advanced technological components of our equipment and systems for the recovery of aluminium scrap and slag help our customers to achieve the four objectives of the Circular Aluminium Action Plan: to achieve the maximum recovery of aluminium to its full potential and a high energy efficiency, reaching the total circularity of resources.
In order to obtain the maximum metal yield from the aluminium, GHI offers a certain type of furnace depending on the scrap to be melted. Moreover, auxiliary equipment such as the decoating and slag cooling systems are the perfect addition.
Recycling of aluminium scrap and slag
The TRF are specialized furnaces for melting low quality scrap and recovering aluminium from the slag. These furnaces stand out for the versatility for all kinds of aluminium scrap and its large capacity of up to 65 tons.
In addition, the salt slag cooling system developed by GHI and Befesa rapidly cools the salt slag generated in the melting process in the tilting rotary furnace.
It minimizes the oxidation of the aluminium contained in the slag, which results in a higher metal yield. Also, it reduces the environmental impact by reducing the amount of generated fumes and it leads to a greater safety in the aluminium recovery plants.
Afterwards, the salts and the recovered aluminium are sorted by means of a sieve with the aim of subsequent recycling whether in the same rotary furnace or in salt recovery plants.
Recycling of UBC and aluminium chips
When it comes to the recycling of chips and UBC, GHI offers the latest technology in Vortex-type furnaces.
These are reverberatory type furnaces with a sidewell including agitation system (either electromechanical or electromagnetic) generating a vortex, which efficiently submerges the melting load and directs it towards the melting chamber. These furnaces are specifically designed for melting UBC, chips, shavings and fine-grade loads.
The decoating system removes the organic components and moisture from the load before it is fed into the VORTEX furnace.
It not only results in a high metal yield, but also achieves high energy efficiency in the melting furnace by preheating the load.
Industry 4.0 and sensorization of aluminium recycling
The aluminium recycling furnaces of GHI are equipped with advanced sensorization system, which allows a thorough control of the process. Thanks to the Beyond 4.0 platform developed by GHI, significant energy savings are achieved in the aluminium melting and recovery processes. In addition, this 4.0 industry platform allows to control the production process with the aim of optimising the use of resources and reducing waste.
For the full report of the circular Aluminium Action Plan published by the European Aluminium Association, please visit: