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Tue May 11 2021

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Breakthrough claimed in low-carbon aluminium

13 Apr En+ Group has produced aluminium with what it claims is the world’s lowest carbon footprint.

Lord Barker of Battle
Lord Barker of Battle

The metal is made using a ‘inert anode’ process that produces emissions one hundred times lower than the industry average, it said.

Aluminium accounts for the third-highest emissions of all construction materials and En+ said that its innovation is a major development for green building, particularly with the World Green Building Council pushing the industry to cut embodied carbon by 40% by 2030.

En+ Group's Metals segment has produced aluminium with a carbon footprint of less than 0.01 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per tonne of metal. The purity of the aluminium produced is higher than 99%.

The metal was produced at the group’s experimental industrial site of the company’s new-generation inert anode electrolysers, located at the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium Plant (KrAZ) in Russia. The capacity of the new electrolyser is about 1 tonne of aluminium per day at a current of 140,000A.

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“As part of our Net Zero commitment in January this year we announced sector-beating targets for carbon reduction – net zero by 2050 and to reduce emissions by at least 35% by 2030," said En+ executive chairman Lord Barker of Battle (who was, as Greg Barker, UK minister for energy and climate change from 2010 to 2015). "Today I am proud to announce that we have made a major step forward on this journey, in a major breakthrough for the industry.

“This is revolutionary technology in which inert anodes replace standard carbon anodes with inert, non-consumable materials – ceramics or alloys, which results in a major reduction of emissions from the smelting process. In comparison to full-scope industry average emissions, metal produced with inert anodes has an 85% lower carbon footprint.

“Another breakthrough advantage of this technology is the release of oxygen in the process of aluminium production. One inert anode cell can generate the same volume of oxygen as 70 hectares of forest.”

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