Why is it important to address the Aluminum industry’s carbon footprint?

Aluminium industry’s carbon footprint| Aluminium is the second most abundant metallic element in Earth’s crust after iron and the most widely used non-ferrous metal. The metal is added in small amounts to several metals to improve their qualities for particular applications. For example, such as Aluminium bronzes and the majority of magnesium base alloys. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. The metal and its alloys are widely utilized in the manufacture of consumer goods, aircraft construction, building materials, cooking utensils, electrical conductors, and chemical and food-processing equipment.

Read more: Aluminum | Uses, Properties, & Compounds | Britannica

Aluminum ingots
Aluminum ingots | Courtesy: Saltaluminyum/Wikimedia Commons

Carbon dioxide emission by the Aluminum industry

According to a report by The International Energy Agency, in 2021, the Aluminum industry was a major source of carbon dioxide. The industry was responsible for about 3% of the world’s 9.4 Gt of direct industrial carbon dioxide emissions. The 3% accounts for around 275 Mt of carbon dioxide and if the indirect emissions are included the number increases to 1.1 Gt of carbon dioxide.

To put things in perspective, 1 Gt of carbon dioxide is roughly equal to 200 million elephants and 3 million Boeing 747 jets. 

Read more: Aluminium – Analysis – IEA

Industrial Aluminum Construction bar
Industrial Aluminum Construction bar | Courtesy: Flickr

Another report by Bluegreen Alliance stated that the world’s aluminum production doubled between 2000 and 2020. Most of the growth in production came from China and it accounted for 57% of global aluminum production in 2020. The demand for aluminum is expected to increase particularly in developing countries. Most of the emissions from aluminum production come from electricity.

Apart from China, India and Australia have the highest, and Iceland and Norway have the lowest energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Read more: Aluminum Climate Impact

Conclusion

According to the same report by the Bluegreen alliance, since 81% of emissions from aluminum production come from electricity, the most important measure to decarbonize the aluminum industry is decarbonizing the electricity used in aluminum production.

Read more: Gigatonne – Energy Education

The International Energy Agency states that, expanding initiatives to create demand for near zero-emission industrial goods to cover aluminum can be another solution as these actions will help to develop the required technologies.

Also, Read

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