Automakers racing to satisfy corporate average fuel-efficiency (CAFE) targets are putting vehicles on a diet - and aluminum helps. Ford F-150 pickup trucks are already lighter, thanks to increased use of aluminum, and other manufacturers plan to use more aluminum in doors, hoods and other parts.
But there are challenges:
- With demand steadily increasing, where is all the aluminum going to come from?
- How is it going to be produced in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner?
Demand for aluminum is projected to grow annually at almost 6 percent through 2018 but it may present a supply squeeze. Why? Because primary aluminum production in the U.S. was scaled back in recent years resulting in secondary melting and scrap-based aluminum plants to increase melting capacity. With such high levels of solid charge materials, there is a need to either add more energy or improve the energy efficiency of your process -- or both -- to maintain, let alone increase, melting capacity.
One of the answers – or possibly the answer – is a proprietary LTOF (Low-Temperature Oxyfuel) technology, which replaces traditional air-fuel combustion with oxyfuel combustion. Oxyfuel combustion refers to using pure oxygen instead of air as the primary oxidant. Since the nitrogen component of air is not heated, fuel consumption is reduced.
Secondly, because it employs lower flame temperatures, this process delivers more uniform heating and lower thermal NOx generation while increasing the melt rate, cutting energy costs and reducing emissions Benefits of this technology also include improved production, reduced emissions and improved overall efficiency.
How efficient is Low-Temperature Oxyfuel technology?
A global gases and engineering company documented a 60 percent increase in aluminum remelting capacity and a 50 percent reduction in fuel consumption in a 130,000 metric ton per year facility in Norway using Low-Temperature Oxyfuel (LTOF) technology.
With the expected demand for aluminum, these efficiencies will be important because recycled aluminum is increasingly used to meet the needs of automakers and their suppliers. The more aluminum that is recycled, the better the aluminum supply picture and any technology that increases efficiency and production in an evironmentally friendly manner in aluminum processesing is going to be harnessed by automakers and their suppliers.
To determine if Low-Temperature Oxyfuel technology could help your melting or remelting process, CONTACT LINDE for a process consult or call 800-755-9277.