TRIMET Takes the Next Step Towards CO2-Free Aluminum Production


Aluminum producer TRIMET is advancing the development of a new technology for CO2-free aluminum production. At its production plant in Essen, the material specialist is commissioning a demonstration facility to test the technology on an industrial scale. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action under the "Decarbonization in Industry" program with approximately three million euros. Funds from the European Union's "NextGenerationEU" fund are also being utilized.

On July 8, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Stefan Wenzel, handed over the funding notification and was informed about the production of the lightweight metal as well as the progress of the project at the aluminum smelter.

"Transformation remains a challenge for the industry," says State Secretary Wenzel. "I am pleased that TRIMET is taking the lead in developing technologies that move us towards climate neutrality while maintaining value creation and jobs in Germany."

Together with partners from research and material development, TRIMET has developed an innovative process that does not release carbon dioxide during aluminum electrolysis, thus reducing direct CO2 emissions in metal production to almost zero. Following the successful completion of the pilot phase, TRIMET will now test the technology on three electrolysis furnaces under production conditions.

"Green transformation needs aluminum. It is all the more important to produce this material in such a way that vehicles, energy systems, packaging, and other products benefit from its ecological quality," says Philipp Schlüter, Chairman of the Board of TRIMET Aluminium SE. “With the development of an emissions-free furnace technology, we are aligning our aluminum smelters and the flexibility of the production process towards the goal of climate-neutral aluminum production.”

Aluminum is produced using molten salt electrolysis. In this chemical process, electricity is passed through the raw material aluminum oxide. The necessary anodes and cathodes are made of carbon, which is consumed during production, releasing CO2. The process developed by TRIMET uses so-called inert anodes and cathodes. These are made from a material that releases oxygen instead of carbon dioxide during the electrolysis process, thus avoiding the emission of climate-damaging greenhouse gases.

In energy-intensive aluminum production, the CO2 emissions from electricity generation primarily impact the material's carbon footprint. The increasing share of renewable energies will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of aluminum. In recent years, TRIMET has retrofitted its production sites to flexibly handle fluctuating amounts of electricity from wind and photovoltaic systems. With inert furnace technology, the family-owned company is preparing to produce aluminum in a climate-neutral manner.

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