Impact of the AGRAL project

Today 3 main activities in the aluminum production are responsible of GHG emissions:

  • the production of bauxite and alumina, raw material for the aluminum extraction : it is responsible of 1.61 t CO2 eq/ tAl
  • the anode manufacturing process (including the baking step) : it is responsible of the emission of 0.25t CO2 eq /t Al
  • the reaction of electrolysis responsible of 1.51 t CO2 eq / t Al

Thanks to the non-consumable characters of the inert anode, the replacement of the carbon anode in the Hall-Héroult reaction will enable to remove:

  • the direct emission of CO2
  • all the indirect GHG emission of Per Fluorinated Compounds, SO2 or Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbon

Comparison of CO2 eq emissions between carbon anode and inert anode

Total emission (ton CO2 eq./t Al)3.371.68

CO2 eq. emissions (*) Carbon anode AGRAL inert anode
CO2 eq. from bauxite & alumina production 1.61 1.61
CO2 eq. from anode manufacturing (including fuel combustion) 0.25 (EU EST benchmark) 0.07 (first estimation of the consortium)
CO2 eq. from electrolysis cell (EU ETS benchmark) 1.51 0.00
CO2 eq. from electric power production 0.00 0.00

(*)These data are based on the hypothesis that the electricity is produced by hydro-electric and nuclear power plant which correspond to European electric production.

As a first approach, it is expected to decrease by a minimum of 1.69 t CO2 eq /t Al thanks to the replacement of the carbon anode by the inert anode, meaning a decrease of 50% of CO2 emissions compared to the carbon anode process.

During the project, a Life Cycle assessment will be done using the standardized methodology (ISO 14040 and 14044) and will allow to quantify the environmental impact of a the inert anode technology. The purpose is to avoid that the potential CO2 savings in the inert anode production are achieved at the expenses of an increase in other environmental impact categories, so as to avoid the burden shifting. Moreover, to properly evaluate the potential saving, the analysis is extended to the whole primary aluminum production (with the inert and carbon-based anode), so as to quantify the extent to which the new inert anode affects the overall environmental profile of aluminum. Recycling potential will also be studied.

EU ETS system has finally a leverage effect on the development of innovative technology to comply with CO2 emission restriction. The adoption of the inert anode in European aluminum industry will help this industry to recover some competitivity (compared to other countries). The environmentally-friendly aspects will also improve the image of the whole Aluminium sector.

Indirect impact on the EU ETS to other industry

Improvement of the durability of the Hydrogen and fuel cell will enable to have an economically viable technology. The hydrogen and fuel cell is a very promising solution to provide a non-fossil energy source that could be used in many applications such as hydrogen production and green electricity.

Boosting Europe’s industrial leadership

This breakthrough technology is of critical importance for the whole Aluminium industry, currently exposed to a global competition and suffering from production decline over the last years.

Data from the European Aluminum Association (EAA) show that EU primary aluminium production (without Iceland and Norway production) has been growing from 2002 to 2005, when the total output of EU production reached 3.3 million tons, then settled around 3 million tons (2006-2008) and decreased to 2.5 million tons (2013).

aluminium import dependency
EU aluminum production and consumption (tons) 2002-2013 (without Iceland and Norway)

Figure shows that in 2013 for the first time, imports accounted for more than half of the EU’s consumption of aluminum. Because of loss of competitiveness aluminum imports to the EU are increasing. The AGRAL project is a new “innovative environmental friendly” technology will contribute to promote the aluminum industry and to keep its actors in Europe.

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