Hydro broke ground on a new $150 million state-of-the-art aluminum recycling facility located at the Southwest Michigan Advanced Research and Technology (SMART) Park in Cassopolis, Michigan. Along with a number of other recycling projects underway, the new facility in Cassopolis will be a key stepping-stone in Hydro’s ambition of doubling recycling of post-consumer aluminum by 2025.
“Aluminum is a key enabler in the green transition. Recycling aluminum scrap reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions whilst promoting a more circular economy,” said Hilde Merete Aasheim, president and CEO of Hydro. “Our plant in Cassopolis will be an example of sustainability and profitability going hand in hand.”
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Hydro executives, guests from local and state government, the Norwegian Embassy to the U.S., industry partners, and potential customers. Once completed, the new plant is expected to create approximately 70 local jobs.
The company’s investment in the new recycling plant will be supported through grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, as well as state and local incentives.
“Hydro strives to be a good neighbor and we have a 100-year history of creating value through collaboration with local communities around the world,” said Aasheim. “We have received a warm welcome in Cassopolis and look forward continuing working with the local community to bring stable jobs, career opportunities as well as investing in local education to bring forth the next generation of Hydro employees.”
New Recycling Plant
The Cassopolis recycling plant will produce 120,000 tonnes (265 million lbs) of aluminum extrusion ingot per year, which will be used in a variety of applications, including automotive, transportation, consumer products, and building systems. The facility will implement next-generation recycling technologies that were pioneered by Hydro in Europe. This includes advanced sorting and processing technologies that enable the company to ensure the production of high quality aluminum billet from post-consumer scrap.
In addition to Hydro-developed sorting technologies, the company has contracted with key suppliers for the new facility. Ramboll has been selected for engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) for the project and will be responsible for the construction of the buildings and preparation of the site. In addition, Hertwich Engineering will supply homogenization technologies, and Hycast will provide an LPC billet casting system, which will be able to produce high quality billet with an excellent surface finish and microstructural uniformity over an extensive alloy range.
“Our state-of-the-art technology allows us to dig deep in the scrap pile and re-create value by bringing low value scrap types back to life as value-added products to demanding customers whilst supporting them in delivering on their sustainability-ambitions,” explained Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president, Hydro Aluminium Metals.
The implementation of advanced technologies will enable the Cassopolis plant to be the first large-scale producer of Hydro CIRCAL® in North America. The Hydro CIRCAL brand is comprised of aluminum extrusion ingot that contains at least 75% post-consumer scrap, as certified by third-party auditors DNV GL. In addition, it is said to have a market-leading CO2 footprint of just 2.3 kg CO2e/kg aluminum. With a growing focus on sustainably produced aluminum, Hydro has been contacted by several North American customers that have expressed interest in Hydro CIRCAL.
In addition to producing low-carbon aluminum, the Cassopolis facility is looking to be environmentally friendly in every aspect of its design. For example, by being located within the Midwest Energy and Communications (MEC) SMART Park, the recycling facility will be able to take advantage of the local infrastructure. The facility will make use of the direct rail service at the SMART Park to bring supplies to the plant, helping to lower the overall carbon footprint of its operations. In addition, Hydro plans to partner with MEC to source renewable electrical power for the facility.
Supporting Local Automotive Innovation
Michigan is home to about 90% of the top 100 automotive suppliers to the U.S. For several years, leading automakers have used aluminum to reduce the weight of combustion-powered vehicles, lowering emissions and increasing performance. According to Hydro, aluminum will play an even greater role in battery-electric vehicles where its combination of light weight, corrosion resistance, and high strength makes it ideal for structural applications.
Hydro has a long history of partnering with automotive companies to develop innovative aluminum products for use in new cars. This includes aluminum alloys made from recycled scrap that were developed in partnership between its global R&D center in Norway and its Aluminum Technology Center in Holland, Michigan, to form key structural elements of the new Rivian R1T.
“Hydro has been in business for as long as Michigan has been making cars and the automotive industry is where the benefits of lightweight and infinitely recyclable aluminum really can make a difference to consumers looking to reduce transport costs and emissions,” said Kallevik. “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 our new capabilities at Cassopolis.”
The new Cassopolis recycling facility is expected to start operation in the fourth quarter of 2023.