Norsk Hydro ASA has made the world’s first batch of aluminum using green hydrogen in a step toward decarbonizing the production of the metal.
The Norwegian producer replaced natural gas with green hydrogen during a test at its extrusion plant in Navarra, Spain, it said in a statement on Thursday. Hydro’s renewable hydrogen company, Hydro Havrand, conducted the trial in partnership with Fives North America Combustion, an engineering firm with expertise in hydrogen burner technology.
For more than a century, Hydro has been searching for new uses for the vast amounts of hydroelectric power that Norway generates each year. The company first found success making artificial fertilizers via a pioneering electrochemical process, and later focused its attention on aluminum, which is one of the world’s most energy-intensive industrial commodities to make. Now, it’s betting that hydrogen could prove even more lucrative.
“Green hydrogen can remove hard to abate emissions from fossil fuels in processes where electricity is not an alternative, both in the aluminum industry and in other heavy industries,” Per Christian Eriksen, head of Hydro Havrand, said. “This test is part of developing commercial fuel switch solutions and to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used in aluminum production.”
Hydro will publish a final report from the test in the fall. The aluminum produced in the test will be utilized to make the world’s first extruded profiles using hydrogen.
“It’s a very powerful message to our customers rather than a powerpoint on net zero 2050 which everyone has,” Paul Warton, executive vice president for Hydro Extrusions, said in an interview. “We can say this is how we will do it.”