April 20, 2024

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Green Metals: Innovative technology drives billions of tons of CO2 reduction in steel, aluminum, and nickel production

Climate change stands as one of the paramount challenges of our era, presenting a multifaceted threat to both the environment and societies, predominantly propelled by human activities. As global temperatures soar due to these anthropogenic influences, the specter of climate change looms ominously over every facet of human existence. The imperative for an expansive and expeditious investment in clean energy and innovation across all economic sectors has never been more pressing.

Amidst this urgent call for action, the steel industry emerges as one of the foremost contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, ranking among the top three producers globally. Furthermore, the production of aluminum, the second most utilized metal worldwide, exacts a significant toll on the environment, responsible for nearly 1.1 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually.

In response to this critical juncture, Hydro’s trailblazing HalZero technology heralds a breakthrough in primary aluminum production. This proprietary innovation revolves around the conversion of alumina to aluminum chloride before electrolysis, ingeniously maintaining chlorine and carbon within a closed loop, thereby emitting solely oxygen. Initial tests of this groundbreaking technology have yielded exceedingly promising results, paving the way for forthcoming lab-scale piloting endeavors with the ambitious aim of commencing pilot production by 2025 and achieving industrial-scale implementation by 2030.

Simultaneously, the realm of metallurgy witnesses a groundbreaking development as Rio Tinto and Alcoa unveil the world’s maiden carbon-free aluminum smelting process. This revolutionary technique not only generates oxygen but also supplants all direct greenhouse gas emissions inherent in traditional aluminum smelting methods. This paradigm-shifting collaboration culminates in the formation of a new joint venture, Elysis, poised to spearhead the large-scale development and commercialization of this transformative process, with a technology package slated for market debut in 2024.

Apple assumes a pivotal role in fostering this collaborative endeavor, facilitating the partnership between Alcoa and Rio Tinto while offering technical support to the joint venture. The culmination of decades of research and development, this technology, represented by Elysis, is fortified by an array of patents and intellectual property rights.

Beyond the confines of traditional steelmaking, African Chrome Fields stands at the vanguard of innovation, poised to inaugurate a state-of-the-art aluminothermic smelting facility in Zimbabwe. Propelled by cutting-edge technology eschewing conventional power sources for the reduction of chrome ore to ferrochrome, this groundbreaking venture promises ultra-low carbon, high-grade ferrochrome within an unprecedented timeframe, heralding a new chapter in mineral beneficiation endeavors.

The crescendo of industrialization, coupled with a burgeoning global population, underscores the imperative for energy storage solutions to fortify the grid system’s flexibility and reliability. Nickel has emerged as a cornerstone of the green revolution, demonstrating its versatility not just in batteries but also in energy storage and a wide array of industrial applications. This remarkable metal holds immense importance in driving sustainable initiatives forward. Renowned entrepreneur Elon Musk has fervently championed increased nickel production, acknowledging its critical role in advancing electric vehicles (EVs) and presenting a compelling opportunity for savvy investors. In his capacity as the visionary CEO of Tesla, Musk has underscored nickel’s indispensable and high-value role in the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries.

In this context, Albanian Minerals emerges as a beacon of hope, championing a mission to forge a greener future through principled endeavors guided by a commitment to environmental stewardship. Sahit Muja, CEO of Albanian Minerals, highlighted the burgeoning significance of nickel in battery technology, propelled by proactive advancements among electric vehicle manufacturers. Notably, a multitude of battery producers are dedicated to crafting batteries with cathodes containing an impressive 80% nickel content. Concurrently, innovations in battery technology contribute to the widespread adoption of nickel-containing Li-ion batteries.

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