Sustainable architecture is the new reality
Inevitably, electricity is required to produce aluminium. But we can choose the energy source from which the electricity is produced. It is a decision with a big impact on the carbon footprint. That is why we made agreements with our suppliers. We no longer want to purchase aluminium produced with polluting energy sources, such as coal. We prefer durable and sustainable electricity sources. This electrical energy plays an important role in the primary production of aluminium.
The aluminium industry is constantly focused on improving the carbon footprint of the aluminium production. A big part of this carbon footprint is related to the need for electricity in the production process. Globally, the carbon footprint of aluminium is more than 10 kg CO2 / kg aluminium (even up to 20 kg CO2 / kg aluminium). The aluminium used in Europe currently has an average of 8.6 kg CO2 / kg aluminium. The majority of this CO2 is attributable to the electricity source. By using “green electricity”, the footprint can drop to 4 kg. This is what we call ‘low carbon aluminium’. Most of the low carbon aluminium today is made by electricity from hydropower plants.
Reduced electrical consumption per ton of aluminium
The Hall-Héroult process, an electrolytic process, is used to turn aluminium oxide in primary aluminium. Currently there are no viable alternatives to this process. However, continual progress has been made over the more than 110-year history of aluminium processing to reduce the amount of electricity used. In the past two decades, the energy efficiency of the Hall–Héroult process has been improved by 20 percent. The focus on improving the energy consumption during this process remains top priority, as this represents a large percentage of the cost of the aluminium production.
New future innovations lead to less CO2
New innovations ensure that the ‘residual impact’ can decrease even further. Different manufacturing companies worldwide are working on new breakthrough techniques to further reduce the CO2 impact in aluminium production. One of the techniques is replacing the carbon anodes in the electrolytic process by a ceramic material. Only oxygen is emitted. This reduces direct carbon emissions to nearly zero, if used in combination with carbon neutral electricity. These innovations are researched throughout the world, in close cooperation with institutes and associations.
Reynaers Aluminum is an active member of European Aluminium. This organization is strongly committed to improving the impact. They published their vision 2050 with clear objectives.
Long lifecycle of aluminium windows and doors
Aluminium is extremely durable. It is not affected by UV rays or moisture and doesn’t corrode or rot. These are the main reasons why the material is used in buildings for a very long time. The lifecycle of aluminium windows and doors has an average of over 40 years, but lifecycles of over 60 years are no exceptions.
During these long lifecycles, our solutions contribute to the energy efficiency of the building. Our continuous focus on research and development results in energy-efficient solutions which can be used in low energy or even energy-neutral homes and buildings. They have excellent insulating and performance properties to reduce the environmental impact of new and existing buildings. Thanks to the high stability of aluminum frames, the large window surfaces allow for abundant solar gains, reducing the need for lighting and heating and making the building’s interiors more comfortable. Last but not least, the low maintenance requirements of aluminium windows and doors avoids additional environmental impact during their lifecycle.
Clear focus on sustainable aluminium
In the near future, there will be more improvements in the energy efficiency of the aluminium process. We are looking forward to it, because this will allow us to have an even greater impact in closing the aluminium loop. We have a clear commitment to sustainable aluminium.
That means investing in:
- Low carbon aluminium.
- Recycling aluminium.
- Future improvements to reduce the carbon footprint.
It will guarantee aluminium for now and future generations.