Shape Corp. signed an agreement with Hydro Aluminium through which the companies will partner on bringing low-carbon Hydro CIRCAL® aluminum to the U.S. market. CIRCAL is a low-carbon aluminum product, which contains high amounts of post-consumer scrap. As a global Tier 1 supplier of multi-material impact energy management and lightweight body structures, Shape will explore the use of CIRCAL in automotive components.
“We are very excited to enter into this close partnership alongside Hydro to bring a product to market that proves to assist in carving our path towards carbon neutrality,” said Mark White, president and CEO of Shape Corp. “As the industry continues to shift towards electrification, it is exciting to see the progress that is being made to materials that keep sustainability in focus for the future of automotive.”
CIRCAL is Hydro’s proprietary brand of recycled aluminum, which is certified by third-party auditors DNV GL to have a minimum of 75% recycled, post-consumer aluminum scrap. As a result, the aluminum has a market-leading carbon footprint of just 2.3 kg CO2e/kg aluminum or less. The product is expected to deliver an estimated 70% CO2 reduction versus the North American average for aluminum (when including Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions).
Hydro is able to manufacture high quality aluminum with high amounts of post-consumer scrap through the use of advanced sorting and processing technologies. As a result, Hydro drastically reduces energy use in the production phase, while still offering aluminum with the necessary metallurgical properties to maintain the strong material and corrosion resistance needed in automotive components.
Hydro’s aluminum recycling plant in Commerce, Texas, is the company’s first plant in the U.S. to have been certified to produce CIRCAL. The initial annual production of this low-carbon aluminum from Commerce is expected to be around 4,000 tonnes. This allows the company to supply more automotive, transportation, and other extrusion ingot customers with certified low-carbon aluminum.
“We are seeing interest from several aluminum extrusion companies and leading OEMs and look forward to partnering with them to further expand production of automotive products with Hydro CIRCAL at Commerce. This is a great recognition of the work being done by the team at Commerce and in North America,” said Dan Luckett, plant manager at Hydro Commerce. “We have been able to learn from the pioneering steps taken by Hydro to produce CIRCAL at our plant at Deeside in the U.K. and successfully implement that here in the U.S.”
Hydro is positioning itself to become the leading producer of low-carbon, recycled aluminum in North America. In addition to certifying its Commerce plant to produce CIRCAL aluminum, the company has also started construction of a greenfield, state-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, Michigan. Production will commence in 2023 with approximately 70 employees. When ramped up to full production, the Cassopolis plant will produce 120,000 metric tonnes of recycled aluminum extrusion ingot per year.
Following completion of the Cassopolis plant, Hydro Aluminium will have the ability to produce over 1 million tonnes of recycled aluminum billet each year across its U.S. operations. In addition to further strengthening its position as the largest producer of aluminum extrusion ingot in North America, this will support Hydro’s 2025 strategic ambition to double its recycling of post-consumer scrap.
Sustainable Aluminum for Automotive
As automotive companies target electrification and work towards carbon neutral manufacturing, they are considering the entire value chain during their decision process for future vehicle programs. This includes expanding the use of recycled materials, for which Hydro CIRCAL provides a sustainable solution.
“Aluminum is lightweight, infinitely recyclable, maintaining all unique properties no matter how many times it’s recycled,” said Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president of Hydro Aluminium Metal. “This is why the metal can play a significant role in the lightweighting of electric and hybrid vehicles, as cars need less electricity and fewer or smaller batteries to travel the same distances.”
As part of the collaborative partnership between Shape and Hydro, the two companies will work to bring the first CIRCAL automotive product to market through testing of material and identification of application projects. This will open the door for this low-carbon aluminum to enter the global automotive market, providing a green solution that also ensures the strength and weight-saving properties that make aluminum vital for the automotive industry.
“With auto manufacturers switching to electric vehicles, combined with the growing need for aluminum, we see this as an opportunity to bring large-scale production of Hydro CIRCAL,” said Trond Gjellesvik, president of Hydro Aluminium Metal, North America. “We help forward-leaning customers reach their climate ambitions by delivering products with a lower carbon footprint that promote a more circular economy.”
The partnership with Hydro is also in line with Shape’s sustainability goals, as the company has pledged to reduce its global carbon emissions 30% by 2030 and to be fully carbon neutral by 2035. By developing products utilizing low-carbon aluminum, the extruder aims to reduce emissions both in its own production phase, as well as for end users. The company also reduces emissions through the development of innovative designs that provide lightweighting solutions for its customers, thus further mitigating climate change.
As part of its growth strategy, Shape is also expanding its extrusion capacity with a new 320,000 sq ft extrusion press line located in Trenton, Ohio.