Hydro’s expands aluminium recycling plant in Rackwitz

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Hydro has started the expansion project at its aluminium recycling plant in Rackwitz, Germany.

The expansion will enable production of the innovative HyForge forge stock segment and significantly increase the use of post-consumer aluminium.

The new facility is planned to become operational by end of the first quarter 2023 with 20 new employees, serving automotive customers with smaller diameter, high-quality billets that may be forged directly into automotive components. The plant currently produces some 95,000 t of extrusion ingot per year. With the expansion, Rackwitz plans to produce an additional 25,000 t of HyForge and increase the recycling of post-consumer scrap as a major raw material for new products in the plant. The investment is expected to be around EUR40 million.

“With more automotive customers putting emphasis on sustainability, we are taking this breakthrough step at Rackwitz to produce aluminium HyForge products, resulting in even smaller diameter billets, while ensuring a best-in-class climate footprint by using a high share of post-consumer scrap in the process,” says Eivind Kallevik, executive vice-president for Hydro Aluminium Metal. “The business case shows that it is not only profitable, but it also has an important sustainability dimension, and it brings us closer to reaching our ambitious recycling targets,” he continued.

The Rackwitz expansion contributes to Hydro’s target of doubling use of post-consumer aluminium scrap to over 500,000 t annually by 2025.

Aluminium helps to decarbonize the automotive sector

“We have a strong collaboration and partnership with the automotive industry, and with the introduction of HyForge, our position as a preferred partner will only get stronger. Our Rackwitz plant is located close to Hydro’s key automotive customers and scrap sources. Together with the HyForge product this is an ideal fit when it comes to the high quality standards and rapidly increasing focus on sustainability in the automotive industry,” says Thomas Stürzebecher, managing director of Hydro Aluminium Metal Rackwitz.

With the automotive industry putting emphasis on light weighting for several decades, there has been continuous growth in the use of aluminium. This is due to the material’s light weight, excellent mechanical properties, corrosion resistance and its processing possibilities. Aluminium also plays a significant role in the light weighting of electric and hybrid vehicles, as cars need less electricity and fewer or smaller batteries to travel the same distances.

HyForge – a high-quality, low-carbon automotive product

Once operational, the new facility will enable Hydro to offer the full forge stock diameter portfolio from large to small, including scrap conversion. Forge stock is an aluminium billet with a smaller diameter than a traditional billet and with higher surface quality.

These billets can be forged into safety critical automotive parts, like wheel suspension parts, straight after delivery from the casthouse. This means that the number of processing steps from casthouse to automotive part are greatly reduced – leading to cost efficiency and higher product quality compared to traditional processes. The HyForge volumes will complement the volumes already being produced at Hydro’s aluminium plant in Husnes, located in western Norway.

Low-carbon footprint

Through the high share of post-consumer scrap in HyForge billet to be delivered by Hydro Rackwitz, the plant will be able to provide these low-carbon aluminium products with a guaranteed CO2-footprint of below 4 kg CO2 per kilo aluminium – which is less than 25% of the global average for primary aluminium.

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