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Low Carbon Aluminum Boosted By Audi’s Use In Automotive First

Alcoa is supplying sustainable low carbon aluminum for wheels on Audi’s first electric sports car, the first time that it will be used in the transportation sector.

The use of the metal is newsworthy as aluminum is estimated to account for around 1% of all industrial sector emissions, even though the European Aluminium Association (EAA) says the sector has cut its CO2e emissions footprint by 50% since 1990. While the aluminium sector has not announced an overall net zero goal, it has released Its  Vision 2050 and a low carbon Europe, much of which is focused on innovation both in lowering carbon footprint and increasing sector circularity.

The EAA expects global primary demand for aluminium to grow by 50% to 2050, to nearly 108 million tonnes, with the main growth driver being increased demand in strategic applications where the metal’s properties make it a natural choice, meaning building, construction, packaging and, of course, transportation.

While the new product does not account for scope 3 emissions and retains an overall carbon footprint, it is the first time that the high energy input for processing has been addressed and marks a significant step forward for the sector.

Alcoa is to supply Ronal Group with low carbon aluminium to make the wheels on the Audi e-tron GT, Audi’s first electric sports car. The new metal has been developed through a joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, Elysis, which is currently working on scaling up the process to full commercial operation.

 

The process Elysis used to create the CO2 free metal emits pure oxygen as a by-product and eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions by replacing the carbon anodes used in traditional aluminum smelting with inert, proprietary materials

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The wheels will be manufactured from an alloy produced with a combination of metal from the ELYSIS zero-carbon emissions smelting technology and EcoLum, Alcoa’s low-carbon aluminum brand.  EcoLum, while not CO2 free, is produced with less than 4.0 metric tons of CO2e for every ton of metal produced, including both direct and indirect (scope 1 and scope 2) emissions across the entire production chain, including bauxite mining and alumina refining.

Marco Philippi, Audi AG’s Head of Procurement Strategy, said: “Aluminum is the focus of our CO2 program because producing this material requires a high energy input. We are therefore actively searching for innovative processes that help reduce CO2 emissions as early as possible in the creation process. The process created by ELYSIS is promising because it already takes effect in the raw material processing phase. These kinds of innovations allow us to increase our sustainability performance in the supply chain and ensure that our models arrive at the customers with a smaller carbon footprint.”

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