Hydro pursuing zero-carbon aluminium by testing green hydrogen technology with global potential

1 July 2024

Green hydrogen can replace fossil energy in the recycling of aluminium, enabling zero-carbon aluminium products. In a three year industrial scale pilot, Hydro will test green hydrogen technology in the new recycling unit at Hydro Høyanger, Norway.

Replacing liquid natural gas with green hydrogen in the recycling of 100 percent post-consumer scrap is one of the fastest routes to zero-carbon aluminium. However, the remelting of aluminium requires high heat, an energy intensive process which is hard to achieve without fossil energy such as natural gas. Hydro will be testing technology with global potential in this pilot, which is building on Hydro’s ‘world first’ industrial scale test of green hydrogen in aluminium recycling in June 2023.

“Hydro is pursuing multiple paths to decarbonize our operations. With this pilot we take another step on our path to zero-carbon aluminium. Green hydrogen is an exciting potential option to decarbonize aluminium and other hard to abate industries,” says Hanne Simensen, Executive Vice President of Hydro Aluminium Metal.

During the pilot, green hydrogen will power one remelting furnace at the Høyanger recycling unit. This is key to unlock this renewable fuel’s decarbonization potential in aluminium, and will provide insight into fuel switch technology, metal quality, and necessary infrastructure for green hydrogen projects.

This project is enabled by Hydro’s competence in both energy and aluminium. Hydro Havrand, Hydro’s green hydrogen unit, has been granted soft funding from the Norwegian Government (Enova) up to NOK 83.3 million to enable this pilot. The aluminium produced in the recycler will be used to further lower the CO2 footprint of aluminium products from Hydro’s Norwegian smelters.

The project is part of Hydro’s strategy to pioneer the transition to greener aluminium and a step in Hydro’s technology roadmap towards zero-carbon products. Over the past years Hydro has produced the first quantities of near-zero carbon aluminium from recycled aluminium, started testing carbon capture in Sunndal, and is working to test biomethane and plasma technology as options to decarbonize the high temperature processes.

Hydro is also building a test facility for a brand new process technology in Porsgrunn, Norway. This is groundbreaking technology in the aluminium industry. A predictable CO2 compensation scheme in Norway, enabled by the long term agreement reached this spring, is key for industry investments.

Green hydrogen is one of the most promising emission free fuels to replace natural gas in aluminium casthouses, but is not in use on an industrial scale in the aluminium industry today.