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Toward Carbon Neutral Production: Novelis to Trial Use of Hydrogen in Recycling Furnaces

June 28, 2023

Novelis has been awarded £4.6 million to establish hydrogen burning trials as part of the UK Government’s £55m Industrial Fuel Switching Competition, as part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), and the wider regional HyNet project.

Novelis joined HyNet in 2017 and has been supporting the development of the regional infrastructure project as well as conducting its own technical feasibility studies on the use of hydrogen as a direct replacement for natural gas.

“Switching to renewable energy sources is a key initiative to advance on our journey toward carbon-neutral production. “Besides decarbonizing our own facility, this collaboration drives the industrial decarbonization of the whole North-West region in UK.”

“We are proud to be one of the pioneers using hydrogen within the aluminium industry and that these trials at Latchford will additionally advance research on the viability of integrating hydrogen power in our recycling operations around the world,”

With the recently awarded grant by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, Novelis’ Latchford plant will test the use of hydrogen on one of its recycling furnaces in a demonstration phase in 2024.

The trial has been up in collaboration with Progressive Energy, an independent UK energy company, and requires the installation of new burners and regenerators – both capable of operating with hydrogen or a blended hydrogen/gas input – and replacing the furnace lining material with one suitable for hydrogen.

Depending on the final configuration, replacing natural gas with hydrogen to feed the remelting furnace could reduce CO2eq emissions by up to 90% compared to using the same amount of natural gas.

“Decarbonizing our melting processes is a critical lever to achieving our sustainability goals of reducing our carbon footprint by 30% by 2026 and being carbon neutral by 2050 or sooner,”

In addition to its contribution to HyNet, Novelis’ research and development teams worldwide are also investigating the ability to use plasma, electricity, and biomass to power its manufacturing operations.

About Novelis Latchford 

Novelis Latchford in Warrington, UK, is one of Europe’s largest aluminium used beverage cans recycling plants, and Europe’s largest closed-loop recycling operation for automotive aluminium rolled products with an annual recycling capacity of up to 195,000 tonnes. The plant is an essential part of Novelis’ European production, which has enough capacity to recycle every aluminium beverage can sold in the UK, and collaborated with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to create the first closed-loop system in Europe with a dedicated railway service to efficiently deliver aluminium between Novelis and JLR’s production site in the UK. Due to the high level of economic integration and the geographical proximity between the EU, UK, and Switzerland, Novelis operates across borders in well-established and efficient supply chains. This interconnectedness creates important economies of scale that benefit the value chains across Europe and enables Novelis to maximize the use of recycled inputs in line with our ambition to provide low-carbon, sustainable aluminium solutions to our customers.