TRIMET Makes Aluminum Recycling Greener


TRIMET has nearly completed the expansion of its recycling plant in Gelsenkirchen. The aluminum manufacturer has increased the production capacity of the site and simultaneously significantly reduced CO2 emissions by renovating the energy supply. This results in significantly improved eco-balances for the aluminum alloys made from recycled scraps, benefiting the end products of the processing industry.

"To achieve climate goals, the industry needs sustainably produced materials," says Dr. Andreas Lützerath, Member of the Board of TRIMET Aluminium SE. "The demand for recycled aluminum will continue to rise. We are aligning ourselves with this demand by offering an expanded range of recycled materials and optimized ecological quality."

With the expansion of the site, TRIMET increases the production capacity of the recycling plant by approximately 20 percent. In addition to an additional casting wheel for casting aluminum sows, an additional tilting rotary furnace has been installed to increase melting capacity and improve energy efficiency. In Gelsenkirchen, 80,000 tons of recycled aluminum can now be produced annually. To process the additional quantities, an enlarged converter was put into operation last year. The family-owned company has invested a double-digit million amount in the expansion. A significant portion of the extensive work focused on renovating the energy supply to make the remelting of light metal even more environmentally friendly. "We aim to become the greenest aluminum recycling plant in Europe," explains TRIMET board member Lützerath.

The recycling plant is now self-sufficient in terms of electricity supply. TRIMET relies on renewable energy sources. Solar cells on the roofs of production and storage halls cover a 3,000-square-meter area, providing green electricity that already meets a large part of the plant's own needs. The rest is obtained from the waste heat of the melting furnaces. A heat exchanger and two power plants convert the waste heat into electrical energy using ORC technology. The self-generated electricity powers, among other things, the processing plants and provides fuel for the company's internal fleet. All forklifts at the recycling plant have been converted to electric drive. In addition, TRIMET will feed approximately 20 gigawatt-hours of waste heat into the public district heating network of Gelsenkirchen in the future.

The conversion of waste heat into electricity reduces the production's indirect CO2 emissions, the so-called Scope-2 emissions, by up to 100 percent. Direct emissions will also decrease significantly. From autumn 2024, the recycling plant at Gelsenkirchen's city harbor will operate the melting furnaces with hydrogen-rich energy gas obtained from Uniper Energy Sales via existing gas pipelines from the ArcelorMittal coking plant in nearby Bottrop. The coking plant gas contains more than 60 percent hydrogen and emits significantly fewer CO2 emissions as a fuel compared to fossil natural gas. This will save approximately 4,000 tons of CO2 annually at the Gelsenkirchen site, which is about a quarter of the currently generated carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, there is the possibility of fully converting the operation of the recycling plant to hydrogen when it becomes economically available.