World first as Norsk Hydro smelts aluminium using green hydrogen instead of fossil gas
Norsk Hydro has produced the world’s first aluminum where green hydrogen was used to fuel the smelting process.
The Norwegian firm, which is one of the largest aluminum companies globally, smelted 225 tonnes of recycled aluminium at its facility in Navarra, Spain, with three batches fueled by a blend of hydrogen and fossil gas and six by pure hydrogen.
It now plans to assess how differences in the way hydrogen burns compared to methane will affect both the overall smelting process or metal quality, with results to be published this autumn. The company also plans to use the test batches of aluminium to make further products.
“We are excited to be conducting this test and it demonstrates Hydro’s commitment to decarbonisation. By removing the carbon emissions from the energy source, we will be able to produce carbon-free aluminium from recycling post-consumer scrap,” says Paul Warton, executive vice-president for Hydro Extrusions, which manufactures aluminium structures for buildings and other infrastructure.
The test was conducted and led by Hydro Havrand, Hydro’s green hydrogen subsidiary, in partnership with Fives, an industrial engineering group that contributed design and supply of the hydrogen burner technology.
Hydro confirms to Hydrogen Insight that the tests used around 33,000 normal cubic metres (2,966kg) of hydrogen produced via electrolysis, which was supplied by Nippon Gases.
However, given this is one of the first tests of aluminium smelting fired by hydrogen, the company is reluctant to extrapolate from the small volumes involved to comment on the cost gap with the conventional process of firing fossil gas.