Scenarios for the European aluminium cycle and implications for energy use in production
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The goal of this project was to characterize the contemporary European aluminium cycle, to quantify the material flows of aluminium within the system, and to find technologies and their specific energy consumption that could be used in the different production processes. Finally, to calculate the energy consumption of the different processes in the European production of aluminium. During the characterization of the European aluminium cycle, decisions had to be made with regards to the level of aggregation due to data availability. Some of the material flows proved to be difficult to quantify, especially the amounts of old scrap that is being collected and processed by recycling companies, the obsolete products leaving the use-phase and the addition to stock in the use-phase. Some technologies available for the different processes in aluminium production are described in the report, and an estimation of the energy consumption of different processes in the European aluminium production is done based on this data. The most important process in terms of material through-flow and energy consumption in the European aluminium production is the primary aluminium production process of aluminium smelting/electrolysis. There are several options available for reducing the energy consumption in this process in general, in the European system many of the producing plants already have relatively low-energy consuming prebake technology installed in their production lines, and the more energy demanding Søderberg technology is in the process of being phased out. Future technology for reducing the energy consumption can be found in new anode technology, inert anodes, "next generation" smelters, and perhaps advanced carbothermic reduction technology.