Each year, Light Metal Age enjoys looking back at the top ten most viewed news stories that we published on our website, highlighting the trends that have affected the aluminum sector over the previous year. In 2022, these top articles and news stories reveal an industry that has become increasingly interested in sustainability and continues to be driven by the automotive industry.
By far the biggest topic of discussion throughout 2022 was sustainability — particularly, the role of the aluminum industry in contributing to a circular economy through increased use of post-consumer scrap, implementation of low energy consumption manufacturing technologies, and the value of aluminum in reducing the carbon footprint of products. The vast majority of articles published in the magazine and on the website over the past year mention sustainability at least in some capacity.
Addressing the Problem of Greenwashing in the Aluminum Industry, by Subodh Das, Phinix, LLC, and Martin Hartlieb, Viami International Inc. — Greenwashing, the tendency to overstate environmental facts with superficial and incomplete statements and information, is a growing problem in the aluminum and other industries. This article attempts to define commonly used terms surrounding sustainability, bring awareness to the greenwashing issue, and provide some ways to address it.
Hydro Makes Multiple Investments to Increase Aluminum Recycling Worldwide — Hydro is focused on sustainability, having set ambitious climate, environmental, and social targets — including the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. One of Hydro’s main pathways toward its goal is increasing its recycling capacity, particularly in regards to the use of post-consumer aluminum scrap to make low-carbon products. In order to achieve this, the company has been making significant investments to expand its recycling operations around the world.
Elysis Moves Toward Commercialization of Inert Anodes, by Andrea Svendsen, managing editor of Light Metal Age — Elysis, the joint venture formed by Rio Tinto and Alcoa, has been making great strides toward the commercialization of its proprietary inert anode technology, which is said to be able to produce aluminum without any direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Published in early 2022, this article looks at the company’s development process and its plan for commercialization.
Alcoa Develops New Scrap Purification Process presents the company’s new, patented process for the purification of post-consumer aluminum scrap. According to Alcoa, this process is designed to process low quality scrap into an extremely high purity level equivalent to or surpassing P0101 aluminum alloys produced in a commercial smelter.
The automotive industry has been a major sector of growth for aluminum for the past decade. That pattern remained solid in 2022 and is expected to continue in the forthcoming years.
The Value Proposition for Lightweighting in Electric Vehicles by Andrew Halonen, Mayflower Consulting LLC, presents automaker perspectives on designing electric vehicles and considers why lightweighting may not be their key focus due to its cost and the impact of government regulations. As Halonen explains, these considerations could present challenges for aluminum manufacturers, who will have to find new ways to demonstrate the value proposition for aluminum lightweighting.
Aluminum Still Makes Ford Trucks Tough by Rose Eaton, Light Metal Age — Ford began using aluminum for the body of its F-150 pickup truck in 2014. Since then,the company has continued to use aluminum in its pickups, including the new F-150 Lightning electric truck, which was released in 2022. This article provides an overview of the company’s use of aluminum, its implementation of closed-loop recycling and the technologies utilized in its assembly plants.
Throughout the past few years (2020-2022), the aluminum industry has been affected by COVID-19, supply chain issues, and international trade concerns. While the challenges caused by COVID-19 have begun to recede, the supply chain and international trade have continued to be a concern. In particular, new challenges have arisen from high energy prices, particularly in the European market.
European Aluminum Smelters Face Closures: Impacted by Exorbitant Energy Prices and the War in Ukraine, by contributing editor Alton Tabereaux, highlights these challenges, providing thoughtful and highly detailed insights into the challenge. The author presents a number of contributing factors for the increasing cost of energy, including increasing demand, skyrocketing natural gas prices, and insufficient quantities of affordable renewable (wind, solar, hydro) or nuclear energy. The invasion of Ukraine also significantly impacted supply chains, in particular the supply of natural gas, which further exacerbated the problem. In the wake of these challenges, energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum, are closing or temporarily suspending their European operations.
Demand for aluminum has continued to remain strong throughout the aluminum industry. This has led to ongoing investments in expanded capacity in the U.S., Europe, and around the world.
Logan Aluminum Plans to Expand Beverage Can Sheet Production — Logan Aluminum, a joint venture owned by Novelis and Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc., announced plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Russellville, Kentucky. In the U.S., aluminum cans are increasingly being used for craft beer, energy drinks, and hard seltzers, the sales of which have been rising in recent years. The project at Logan will increase capacity for flat rolled aluminum products, which will primarily be used to serve the growing beverage can market.
Increasing Primary Aluminum Production Through Potline Extensions by Jean-Denis Carrier, Hatch, and Saif Alhashmi, EGA, addresses the process and challenges of expanding potlines thorugh the addition of reduction cells to an existing line, which requires extending the potline electrical circuit. This article highlights the conditions for successful potline extensions in the context of EGA’s recently completed extension of Potlines 1, 2, and 3 at its Al Taweelah smelter in Abu Dhabi, which was completed in November 2021. This extension added 66 new reduction cells in total to the three potlines, boosting production capacity by some 78,000 tonnes of hot metal per year.
New Arizona Extruder to Produce Hard Alloy Profiles for the Aerospace Industry — Located at the Lone Butte Industrial Park near Phoenix, AZ, FALCO is a new women-owned and family-run extrusion company currently in the process of starting up its extrusion operations. The company aims to produce hard alloy products for the aerospace and other industries. This article provides an overview of the company’s goals and company culture, which focuses on customer service.