Circular EconomyRecycling

US government launches new aluminum recycling technology

The new aluminum recycling process eliminates impurity problems in the second raw material

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – With a newly patented technology, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) of the US Department of Energy promises to revolutionize aluminum recycling.

It’s called Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion Process (ShAPE). It transforms 100% of aluminum scrap into extrusions suitable for construction. The process significantly reduces the energy needed compared to traditional aluminum production. The technology uses the heat generated by scrap cutting to pulverize impurities and distribute them evenly in the aluminum microstructure. This dispersion eliminates small lumps of iron that can cause micro-fractures in aluminum recycling products. This also leads to energy savings, because it eliminates the need to dilute the impurities present in the aluminum scrap by mixing it with raw material of new extraction before processing.

Discovering the technology, the DEO has entered into an agreement with a technology entrepreneur, Eric Donsky. He founded a startup called Atomic13, through which he intends to scale the ShAPE process in vertically integrated manufacturing facilities to aluminum recycling scrap. The startup will market the technology, to provide custom extruded parts to the construction and consumer goods industry. The approach could be particularly attractive for manufacturers seeking to meet energy efficiency standards.

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Atomic13 is currently in the design phase of its first commercial production line. The first orders will be open by 2025.

“About 55% of the global aluminum extrusion market today serves the construction and construction industry,” said PNNL chief scientist Scott Whalen, who led the project. “shape is, therefore, a huge opportunity to decarbonize the built environment. We are discovering that the microstructures inside the metal are more impurity tolerant than previously thought. This allows us to penetrate even deeper into the aluminium scrap market while maintaining material performance”.

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