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Nissan to transition to low-CO₂ emission aluminum by 2030

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it will use low-CO2 emission aluminum parts made from green or recycled aluminum in new and current models from fiscal year 2024 onward and aims to complete the full transition to such parts by 2030.

Aluminum accounts for approximately 10% of vehicle weight. By using low-CO2 emission aluminum, Nissan aims to take a significant step towards achieving carbon neutrality.

Nissan aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the entire lifecycle of its vehicles by 2050.

Green aluminum is produced using non-fossil fuel-derived electricity and can reduce CO2 emissions during production by approximately 50%. Additionally, recycled aluminum can reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 95%. Nissan has been purchasing low-CO2 emission aluminum sheets for vehicle panels produced in Japan from Kobe Steel, Ltd. and UACJ Corporation. Going forward, Nissan will use low-CO2 emission aluminum for all aluminum parts, including processed components, globally, to further reduce CO2 emissions.

For all new models produced from fiscal year 2027, low-CO2 emission aluminum will be used. For current models, from this fiscal year Nissan aims to start purchasing wheels, chassis parts, axle parts and harness wires made from green aluminum in Japan, the United States, and Europe. As a result, by the end of fiscal year 2024 approximately 20% of the newly mined aluminum Nissan uses for car parts procured in those markets is expected to be replaced with green or recycled aluminum.

Comments

mahonj

I wonder:
a: how much extra it will cost and
b: If it is as good as freshly made Al

Gryf

The cost of Aluminum depends on the cost of electricity, so it is usually made where the cost is very low and typically using Hydroelectricity.
Reducing CO2 emissions during production by 50% is not a big deal. To get rid of the rest requires a different anode. Your iPhone already uses it.

Read this:
https://www.aluminum.org/anode-technology-game-changer-aluminum
https://www.elysis.com/en/what-is-elysis

Davemart

Back in the day aluminum recyycling was pretty much aircraft bodies to coke cans, and that was it.
Since then just about every stage of recycling has been improved, starting with sorting.
It seems that how pure you get the recycled stuff now pretty much depends on how thorough you make the processing, as obviously purer means more stages and so on.
For instance:

https://recyclinginside.com/aluminum-recycling/maximum-aluminium-purity-for-the-circular-economy/

This particular company is not the only show in town for recycling, but there article seems to give a reasonably comprehensive overview

Davemart

Hi Gryf.

Interesting stuff!
I wonder what the efficiency of the process you refer to is?

Gryf

Inert Anodes are only part of the efficiency of aluminum production.

Here is a UN report on Inert Anodes and Aluminum Smelters:
https://www.ctc-n.org/technologies/inert-anode-technology-aluminium-smelters#:~:text=Conventional%20carbon%20anodes%20have%20a,limits%20the%20development%20of%20GHGs.

Gryf

Two additional references. Inert Anodes do use more electricity, however do not need to be replaced or create CO2.
“The Role of Inert Anodes in Aluminum Decarbonization“,
https://www.nrdc.org/bio/ian-wells/role-inert-anodes-aluminum-decarbonization
“U.S. Aluminum Production Energy Requirements: Historical Perspective, Theoretical Limits, and New Opportunities“,
https://www.aceee.org/files/proceedings/2003/data/papers/SS03_Panel1_Paper02.pdf

Roger Brown

Gryf wrote:

"The cost of Aluminum depends on the cost of electricity, so it is usually made where the cost is very low and typically using Hydroelectricity."

A concern I have if we go down an all renewables path with their inherent time variability is that hydroelectricity will become a extremely precious commodity with lots of economic actors vying to get a piece of the pie. I think we will have to push recycling really hard and accept lower standards of consumption if we really hope to get to net zero carbon on a timely basis.

Davemart

Now I have had my breakfast I am as fit as I will ever be to tackle the not inconsiderable task of reading and maybe understanding a little Gryf's links! ;-)

“U.S. Aluminum Production Energy Requirements: Historical Perspective, Theoretical Limits, and New Opportunities“,
https://www.aceee.org/files/proceedings/2003/data/papers/SS03_Panel1_Paper02.pdf'

On page 8 it states:

' The theoretical minimum energy requirement of 9.03 kWh/kg Al for an idealized
Hall-HÈroult cell using an inert anode can be calculated from the thermodynamics of the reaction 2Al2 O3 → 4 Al + 3 O2 (Note: if the O2 gas emission at 960∫C is included then the total theoretical minimum energy requirement is 9.30 kWh/kg Al). The theoretical energy requirement for an inert anode reaction is 45% higher than the carbon anode requirement.
This makes the inert anode reaction voltage about 1 V(dc) higher. However, three factors are likely to provide the inert anode with an overall improved, operational energy performance than carbon anodes:

a) Elimination of Carbon Anode Manufacturing - Carbon anodes require 5.90 tf kWh/kg Al for manufacture while inert anodes will require approximately 0.75 kWh/kg Al.
b) Reduction of Anode Polarization Overvoltage ñ Inert anodes can shaped to allow for better release of the O2 generated and experimental evidence has shown that the
oxygen evolved in the bath has a different froth/foam dynamic than carbon dioxide
and these physical properties, in practice, also contribute to a lower anode
overvoltage (DOE, 1999).
c) Reduction in ACD - a stable anode surface combined with a wetted cathode will allow for a greater reduction in ACD.
Overall inert anodes when combined with a wetted cathode, compared to traditional
Hall-HÈroult cells, are expected to provide: 10% operating cost reductions (elimination of carbon anode plant and labor costs associated with replacing anodes), 5% cell productivity increases and a 43% reduction of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions (DOE and The Aluminum Association, 1998)
These scenarios provide the inert-anode cell with an overall lower-energy
requirement than the state-of-the-art Hall-HÈroult cell. However, the engineering designs for an inert-anode system must incorporate effective approaches for minimizing thermal losses from the cells, new current-carrying bus systems, and the connectors external to the cell.'

Davemart

Since Gryf's link is from 2003 I had a look to try to sort out what the current state of play is, and came up with:

https://www.nrdc.org/bio/ian-wells/role-inert-anodes-aluminum-decarbonization

' Despite the climate and health benefits of inert anodes, one criticism of the technology is its potential impact on the electrical grid. The theoretical minimum electricity requirement for smelting with a carbon anode is 5.99kWh/kg Al, while for inert anodes, it is 9.03 kWh/kg Al. The higher theoretical energy usage is valid reason for concern about grid reliability and the ability to meet demand. This concern is especially relevant as policymakers work to decarbonize the electrical grid while simultaneously electrifying sectors like transportation and buildings.
Despite the climate and health benefits of inert anodes, one criticism of the technology is its potential impact on the electrical grid. The theoretical minimum electricity requirement for smelting with a carbon anode is 5.99kWh/kg Al, while for inert anodes, it is 9.03 kWh/kg Al. The higher theoretical energy usage is valid reason for concern about grid reliability and the ability to meet demand. This concern is especially relevant as policymakers work to decarbonize the electrical grid while simultaneously electrifying sectors like transportation and buildings. '

In addition, one source I came up with mentioned that the process of producing regular CO2 producing cathodes which are inherently consumables, unlike inert cathodes which although they do not last forever are not inherently sacrificial, in itself produces considerable quantities of CO2
I have lost the link, as sometimes they get fed up with repeated access and demand registration which I don't do, but from my lousy memory was something of the order of 5kg of CO2 per kg of produced aluminum.

Apparently lower temperature electrolysis may be required, although I am not clear if that applies to all possible formulations of inert anodes:

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1149/1945-7111/ace332

Rusal in Russia reckon they have cracked inert anodes in aluminum production:
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1149/1945-7111/ace332

But as the link notes:
' In its pursuit of a carbon-free alternative to carbon anodes traditionally used in electrolysis, Rusal largely competes with the Elysis joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, which also produced a batch of carbon-free aluminum back in 2019 using ceramic anodes. Elysis has said that it aims to scale up the technology by 2024.

Neither of the inert anode technologies has yet been fully proven or commercialized.'

So if I have understood what is going on correctly,, which is not a given, then inert anodes look good for substantial reduction in Co2 emissions from aluminum production overall.

As an energy source, the Chinese plan to use nuclear where the process heat comes more or less free seems to me a lot easier than using variable renewables, although the likes of Australia with its fantastic renewable resources may beg to differ.

Roger Brown

That a technology exists that can potentially produce carbon free aluminum at reasonable costs relative to the Hall–Héroult process is a good thing. However, if you are hoping to drive down carbon emissions over the next couple of decades serious barriers still exist. For one thing the inert anode process is not ready for prime time and once it is ready sunk costs in existing plant will slow down the transition to the new technology. In the mean time in a business as usual economic scenario global aluminum consumption is projected to rise at 2.6% annual rate (https://www.statista.com/statistics/863681/global-aluminum-consumption/). Furthermore an adequate carbon free energy supply with a good time profile and direct costs comparable to fossil sources is not a slam dunk within the next couple of decades.

A significant reduction of total emissions from aluminum in the next couple of decades within a business as usual economic growth scenario is not guaranteed. And we do need a reduction and not just a slower growth rate. I suspect that we will have consider lower per capita consumption of aluminum in addition to technological innovation if want to do something serious about climate change.

Davemart

Hi Roger.

I have posted fairly extensively here about my notion that basalt fiber can replace a lot of current metal use, aluminum and more importantly in terms of CO2 emissions, steel.

I don't want to bore people here by excessive repitition, but will certainly try to summarise if it is of interest to you.

Here is a taster of the properties of this processed abundant rock:

https://www.ijraset.com/research-paper/basalt-fiber-and-basalt-fiber-reinforced-polymer-composites

It is also not toxic, and a heck of a lot better to work with than fiber glass, which probably won't enter into the calculations of the important people deciding such things, but for us peasants is encouraging.

Roger Brown

Hi Dave,

I have read previously about the possibility of using basalt fiber to reinforce concrete in place of steel rebar. The problem with rebar is that it rusts so that the life time of such composites is limited compared say to the dome of the Pantheon which is close to 2000 years old and still going strong. Your reference is the first time I have heard about the possibility of general usage of basalt fiber in composite materials.

Davemart

Hi Roger,

Basalt rebar of course does not rust, and the life of structures reinforced with it would be much longer. Rebar is a massive user of steel.
Basalt fiber takes a fraction of the energy to produce and is more or less infinitely recyclable.

It can also be used instead of glass fiber for things like car bodies, where glass fiber was not very successful, to replace steel and aluminum, and with flax etc for all sorts of interior components.

Here are where I discussed it and gave technical links etc on this forum:

https://www.greencarcongress.com/2024/04/20240424-incat.html

https://www.greencarcongress.com/2024/03/20240331-verdagy.html

Davemart

Roger:

I am putting the other couple of links here in a separate post to avoid spam filters:

https://www.greencarcongress.com/2024/02/20240209-ornl.html

https://www.greencarcongress.com/2024/02/20240209-ornl.html

Note from my post:

' BFRP Rebar does not rust, it has the same thermal expansion coefficient as concrete, it is resistant to water, alkaline, and ultraviolet radiation, therefore it can have a life expectancy of more than 100 years!

Steel, on the other hand, is prone to rust and corrosion, especially where moisture is present; it is also prone to cracking due to its different coefficient of thermal expansion compared to concrete, causing buildings to require frequent maintenance, so according to general standards, steel has an average lifespan of 35 years.'

Just replacing steel rebar with basalt would be a major win in terms of energy use, CO2 emissions and structural longevitey, but the uses of basalt fiber by no means stop there.

Roger Brown

Dave,

Thanks for the links.

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