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Rusal Produces Low Carbon Aluminum Using Inert Anode Technology

Rusal primary aluminum production Inert anode© by EN+ Group

UC Rusal, a metals segment of En+ Group, successfully produced low carbon aluminum using its proprietary inert anode technology. According to the company, it has achieved the world’s lowest carbon aluminum footprint — less than 0.01 tonnes of CO2eq per tonne of aluminum (based on GHG Protocol’s Scope 1 and 2 guidance for direct and indirect energy emissions). In addition, the purity of the aluminum produced is higher than 99%.

The aluminum was produced at Rusal’s Krasnoyarsk (KrAZ) aluminum smelter, where it has constructed experimental industrial operations and is developing the next-generation inert anode technology for the electrolysis process. The capacity of the new inert anode electrolysis cell is about 1 tonne of aluminum per day at a current rate of 140,000 A.

“This is a revolutionary technology in which inert anodes replace standard carbon anodes with inert, non-consumable materials — ceramics or alloys, which results in a major reduction of emissions from the smelting process,” said Greg Barker, Barron of Battle and executive chairman of En+ Group. “In comparison to full-scope industry average emissions, metal produced with inert anodes has an 85% lower carbon footprint. Another breakthrough advantage of this technology is the release of oxygen in the process of aluminum production. One inert anode cell can generate the same volume of oxygen as 70 hectares of forest.”

UC Rusal is a world leader in the development of inert anode technology, with its major competitor being Elysis. Inert anodes are a breakthrough technology and a revolutionary environmental solution, driving the emissions-intensive production of aluminum towards net zero.

The development of inert anode technologies has been pursued since the aluminum production process was first developed. And it has been noted as one of the possible methods for reducing direct emissions from the smelting process in the International Aluminium Association’s GHG reduction pathways plan.

Ongoing Sustainability Goals

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key strategic goal of the En+ Group, and its production carbon footprint is already several times lower than the industry average. “As part of our Net Zero commitment, in January this year we announced sector-beating targets for carbon reduction – net zero by 2050 and to reduce emissions by at least 35% by 2030,” said Lord Barker. “I am proud to announce that we have made a major step forward on this journey, in a major breakthrough for the industry.” These stretching targets cover absolute emissions across all operations, including aluminum production along with heat and electricity production.

To achieve net zero, the EN+ is modernizing its facilities, introducing the best available technologies as well as developing new ones. For example, Rusal recently completed the modernization of its KRaZ smelter, converting it to EcoSøderberg Technology, which is being implemented across the majority of its production facilities. The company is also ramping up production of its low carbon aluminum brand, ALLOW.

EN+ Group is also looking to improve its own carbon footprint assessment, working with partners to create universal methodologies that will ensure the transparency and comparability of carbon footprint assessments between different manufacturers. In 2015, Rusal joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, an international initiative that promotes responsible planning, production, and resource management in the aluminum industry.

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