Inert anodes can get GHG emissions out of aluminum production but aren't ready for market

September 26, 2022 | Case Study

Aluminum production has a significant environmental footprint. It involves two major steps: first, the Bayer process in which raw bauxite ore is turned into alumina (Al2O3), and second, the Hall-Héroult process that involves smelting alumina to obtain pure aluminum. The Hall-Héroult process consumes more than 60% of the energy used in aluminum production and also releases 1.66 ktCO2 for every tonne of aluminum produced. The indirect carbon footprint due to electricity (15.37 kWh/kg of Al) adds to aluminum's big footprint. Although renewable energy can significantly reduce the indirect carbon footprint, the direct emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and hexafluoroethane (C2F6) are still concerning and make up roughly 10% of emissions. Replacing carbon anodes with inert materials can eliminate direct emissions and reduce the frequency of electrode replacement — lowering costs overall.

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