Hydro is a global supplier of aluminium and aluminium products. Based in Norway, the company employs 19,000 people in 40 countries and has activities on all continents. Rooted in a century of experience in renewable energy production, technology development and progressive partnerships, Hydro is committed to strengthening the viability of the customers and communities it serves.
Hydro supplies a wide range of processed aluminium products to customers in many different industries all over the world, such as:
• Building and construction
• Automotive and transport
• General engineering
The company is also a significant owner and operator of hydro-electric power plants in Norway.
Hydro’s R&D organization works with
Hydro’s large global network as a partner for customers and partners seeking new technology and sustainable applications.
Hydro is a technology leader in its industry, running R&D programmes to develop new versions of its own electrolysis technology, which will be designed to be CO2 captureready and to obtain state-of-the-art results when it comes to energy consumption per tonne of aluminium produced. Hydro is also a global leader in aluminium casting technologies. Since 2006, Hydro has been involved in the solar industry, including product offerings for the building industry where solar solutions are combined with façade elements made of aluminium. Hydro combines its strength in technological development with professional and cost-efficient project execution as well as being in the forefront in commercial innovation.
Hydro’s R&D activities employ more than 500 people encompassing 15 nationalities from three continents. Approximately EUR 70 million (NOK 606 million) was spent on R&D in 2009.
Next Generation Cell Technology
The most important R&D project in Hydro’s portfolio is the development of the HAL4e reduction cell to be used in potential future investment projects. A pilot facility consisting of six full scale cells is now in full production at the Årdal Research Center in Norway, employing about 100 people, also drawing on the competence of technology groups in Porsgrunn, Norway, and Neuss, Germany.
Main features of HAL4e include:
• Low emissions or discharges of climate gases, fluorines and waste materials
• Low energy consumption through energy recovery and efficient electrolysis processes
• Low cost of investment
• Future-oriented technology platform designed for concentration and separation of CO2 from the process gas
Fluorine emissions in Hydro’s aluminium production have been reduced by almost 50% in 1990 to around 0.40kg HF per tonne of aluminium today. Hydro’s latest production unit, the Sunndal 4, has fluorine emissions below 0.2 kg per tonne of aluminium. The Qatalum plant in Qatar, which became operational in December 2009, will have the same low level. The specific emissions from HAL4e will be as low as 0.15 kg HF per tonne of aluminium.
Future Solutions for the Building Sector
Hydro develops energy-efficient solutions for buildings – which represent around 40% of all energy consumption. Hyper-effective façades are already capable of reducing energy usage by between 50 and 80%.
In order not only to reduce energy consumption, but also contribute to covering the remaining energy needs of a building, Hydro is working on technologies for the effective integration of solar energy in buildings. This can be both practical and aesthetic in application.
Financial strength and large R&D contributions are necessary, as Hydro sets out to meet these environmental challenges both through product and process innovation. Hydro has substantial R&D activities within building systems, with research centres in Europe, Asia and the U.S. Its major European centres are located in Norway and Germany, with additional units in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain. Hydro also has technology hubs in India and in Qatar, to be close to the fast-growing markets in Asia.
Hydro is an important player in the European construction market, with three leading, international product names:
• Technal – Has a strong foundation in France. A sustainable technology centre might normally use 230 kWh/m2a energy (primary), according to French national averages, but at Technal’s technology centre, only 50 kWh/m2a (primary) is used, with an annual production of 4,200 kWh
• Wicona – Technically advanced products, with Germany as the largest market. The average energy usage for a test center in Germany is 180 kWh m2a (primary), but at a Wicona test center, this is reduced to just 50 kWh m2a (primary), with 40,000 kWh/a production of solar energy, and CO2 balance of 0kg/a
• Domal – has a strong position in Italy and other markets in southern Europe, based on design and innovation
Hydro exports to more than 100 countries, including in the Middle East and Asia.
Tomorrow’s Multifunctional Buildings
To save energy, buildings must reduce material usage and have better insulation. Active forms of energy production – solar, wind and biomass – should be combined with passive forms, such as conservatories and double façades. Hydro aims at 100% recyclability, with fewer different materials, each of them known to be safe. User interactivity is also important, with sensor controlled response and increased attention paid to user comfort.
An important part of Hydro’s solutions is InventSkin®, a solution that aims to reduce energy usage and CO2 emissions connected to heating, cooling, ventilation and light by up to 50%. In addition, InventSkin® reduces the use of standby energy in electrical apparatus by up to 80%, thanks to integrated electronic functions, and reduces the number of cable leads and electronic units in the façade by up to 70%.