Alcoa expects its $21-million Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products casthouse expansion at its Barberton, Ohio plant to cut in half the total amount of energy used to recycle aluminum for forged wheels, reducing greenhouse gases and increasing the overall efficiency and sustainability of the company’s manufacturing process. The recycling facility, the first of its kind in North America, produces wheels from re-melted and scrap aluminum.
Construction of the 50,000-square-foot facility, which can process 100 million pounds of scrap aluminum each year, began in July 2011. It is now up and running at full capacity.
100 million pounds of recycled scrap aluminum is enough to make 2 million new Alcoa forged aluminum wheels. The casthouse takes chips and solids from an existing Alcoa wheel machining plant on the same campus in Barberton, as well as from Alcoa’s Cleveland forging plant, and recycles them into aluminum billets. The billets are then shipped to other wheel-processing facilities to forge into aluminum wheels.
The casthouse is expected to reduce significantly energy use through a combination of process improvements and reduced transportation needs. The facility is located on the campus of an existing production facility, which has led an approximately 90% cut in transportation-related energy use.
Aluminum wheels reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, which improves fuel efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
This project is also part of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, through which we will share best practices—such as linking energy goals to compensation—to help other companies reduce their industrial energy intensity.—Kevin Anton, Alcoa’s Chief Sustainability Officer