Novelis receives Gov funding to trial hydrogen in recycling furnaces

Aluminium company Novelis has announced plans to trial hydrogen in recycling furnaces following a UK Government promise of £82.9 million to help businesses tackle carbon emissions. 

Novelis Warrington Latchford plantThe company was awarded £4.6 million for its Latchford plant (near Warrington) to establish the demonstration trial – which will begin in 2024. The funding is part of the £55m Industrial Fuel Switching Competition which is part of the wider regional HyNet project – a UK-based industrial decarbonisation project.

Novelis joined HyNet in 2017 and has been supporting the development of the regional infrastructure project as well as conducting its own technical feasibility studies on the use of hydrogen as a direct replacement for natural gas.

Emilio Braghi, Executive Vice President of Novelis Inc. and President of Novelis Europe, commented: “Switching to renewable energy sources is a key initiative to advance…our journey toward carbon-neutral production. Besides [decarbonising] our own facility, this collaboration drives the industrial [decarbonisation] of the whole North-West region in [the] UK.”

The trial has been set up in collaboration with Progressive Energy, an independent UK energy company, and requires the installation of new burners and regenerators – both capable of operating with hydrogen or a blended hydrogen/gas input – and replacing the furnace lining material with one suitable for hydrogen.

Depending on the final configuration, replacing natural gas with hydrogen to feed the remelting furnace could reduce CO2eq emissions by up to 90 per cent compared to using the same amount of natural gas.

Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, Vice President of Sustainability at Novelis Inc, added: “[Decarbonising] our melting processes is a critical lever to achieving our sustainability goals of reducing our carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2026 and being carbon neutral by 2050 or sooner.”

Government funding to tackle carbon emissions

The UK Government announcement of £82.9 million aims to help 29 businesses reduce their carbon emissions through a variety of funding schemes – including for some of the UK’s leading brands such as Burton’s Food Ltd, Procter and Gamble, and Kellogg’s. The cereal maker plans to use hydrogen to fuel production in Manchester.

The announcement was made by Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart at the Climate Innovation Forum and comes as part of a one billion pound commitment from the Government to support emerging ‘clean’ technologies such as biomass and hydrogen.

Funding has also gone to Annadale Distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest whiskey makers, who plan to use the £3.6 million investment by using new thermal heating technology. The distillery will work with Exergy3 Ltd to develop a system that stores energy from electricity in ceramic bricks to be used to produce heating gas.

Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart said: “Whether it’s the first meal of the day or a nightcap, the great manufacturers of our country are striving to cut their carbon emissions and their energy bills – and in turn, support our efforts to boost our energy security.

“Our investment of over £80 million will help them to go further and faster, using the latest science, technologies, and new energy sources to cut ties with fossil fuels and future-proof their industries.”

The funding forms part of the government’s commitment to reduce overall UK energy demand by 15 per cent by 2030, alongside the wider ambition for the UK to move towards greater energy independence.

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