Novelis to trial use of hydrogen to replace natural gas in recycling aluminium in UK

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Global aluminium company Novelis is to trial replacing natural gas with hydrogen at its facility near Warrington.

The Latchford plant has been awarded £4.6 million to establish hydrogen during trials as part of the UK Government’s £55 million Fuel Switching Competition. This is part of the wider £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) and the wider regional HyNet project.

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Novelis will test the use of hydrogen on one of its recycling furnaces at Latchford in a demonstration phase in 2024.

After joining HyNet in 2017, Novelis has been supporting the development of regional hydrogen infrastructure as well as conducting its own feasibility studies into replacing natural gas with hydrogen.

Novelis executive vice president and Novelis Europe president Emilio Braghi said: “Switching to renewable energy sources is a key initiative to advance on our journey toward carbon-neutral production.

“Besides decarbonising our own facility, this collaboration drives the industrial decarbonisation of the whole North-West region in UK.”

The trial has been set up with independent UK energy company Progressive Energy. It will require the installation of two new burners and regenerators, both of which will be capable of operating with hydrogen or a blend of hydrogen and natural gas. The furnace liner will also need to be replaced to enable it to operate with hydrogen.

Depending on the final configuration, using hydrogen instead of natural gas could reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by up to 90%.

Worldwide, Novelis is also investigating the use of plasma, electricity and biomass to power its manufacturing operations.