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Hydro’s HalZero Smelting Technology Achieves a New Milestone

Hydro is entering a new development stage for its HalZero production technology, which aims to decarbonize the aluminum smelting process. With support from the Norwegian government, the company plans to invest in a test facility for the new technology. This puts Hydro on track to deliver pilot production of zero-carbon primary aluminum by 2030.

“The development of HalZero is our most groundbreaking technology initiative ever,” said Eivind Kallevik, executive vice president for Hydro Aluminium Metal. “This could be the first industrial production of primary aluminum without greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The plan is ambitious, and there is considerable risk. Therefore, we depend on the authorities to join us on the road to make a major investment.”

Decarbonizing industrial sectors is one of the most important contributions to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Hydro has been working on early phase development of the HalZero smelting technology at its Technology Center in Porsgrunn, Norway for seven years.

With the HalZero technology, alumina is chlorinated and becomes aluminum chloride in a process that also produces carbon dioxide. Instead of releasing the CO2 to the atmosphere, it is sent back into the process and reused in the chemical reaction in a closed loop. Instead of carbon dioxide, only oxygen is emitted from the process. This makes the electrolysis process completely greenhouse gas emission free (excluding emissions from energy production).

HalZero is primarily suited for new production capacity. The development is part of Hydro’s technology roadmap to reduce the emissions associated with aluminum production. In addition, the company is working in parallel to develop carbon capture and storage for its existing aluminum smelters, while increasing the use of renewable electricity and testing green hydrogen in the value chain.

“The aluminum industry needs optionality to increase our chances of reaching net zero by 2050,” noted Kallevik. “Working on several decarbonization routes in parallel increases our chances of success and the speed at which we will be able to reach our ambitious climate targets.”

More and more end users are looking to purchase sustainable products, and zero-carbon aluminum is an important part of this green shift. The metal is lightweight, high strength, and corrosion resistance, as well as providing other properties that make it dies for various sectors, including automotive (particularly electric cars), building and construction, solar panels, and more.

“We know that demand for aluminum will increase, and aluminum without CO2 emissions will mean a lot for the climate goals,” said Kallevik. “Today, the aluminum industry accounts for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions. We are aware of our responsibility and we want to take the lead in developing zero-emission technology for aluminum production.”

The HalZero technology is being supported by the Norwegian government, via state enterprise Enova, which has granted NOK 141 million (US$13.2 million) for the construction of the test facility. The total investment is expected to be approximately NOK 400 million (US$37.5 million).

“The technology that Hydro is developing here can contribute to significant emission reductions for the aluminum industry both in Norway and in other countries,” said Kristian Nakstad, CEO in Enova. “Enova supports companies that take a lead in decarbonizing industry, and we believe that HalZero can contribute strongly to reducing emissions from the aluminum industry.”

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