Innovation is vital for the aluminium industry. In 2015, European Aluminium has established its Innovation Hub to better connect the industry with the EU innovation agenda. The Innovation Hub is a proactive community of innovative companies from across Europe’s aluminium value chain. Our goal is to trigger research projects that advance a sustainable future and tackle technological challenges, thereby advancing the industry’s, and contributing to our Circular Aluminium Action Plan and our Vision 2050. Learn about our industry’s innovation goals and challenges in our mapping document.
As part of the Innovation Hub activities, European Aluminium has developed an animation showing the major innovations under deployment or development, which will make aluminium a key enabler to a more sustainable society in Europe.
But the Innovation Hub would not be complete without its key stakeholders: policymakers, experts, and research institutes. Only by working together as a part of an innovation-focused community, we can place aluminium at the centre of a sustainable Europe. The following video provides a quick overview of our activities.
Initiate EU projects and reinforcing the connection with key research organisations and universities
The Innovation Hub facilitates the development of collaborative project proposals for his members and joins proposals under development, especially EU project proposals submitted to the EU Horizon 2020 framework. Until now, six H2020 proposals have been selected for funding. These 6 EU projects, still running in 2021, are:
- RemovAL - Turning Bauxite residue into resources, start in May 2018
- AlSiCal - Looking at alternative routes to produce alumina, start in Sept 2019
- CORALIS - Making Industrial symbiosis a business case, start in Oct 2020
- ReActiv - Bauxite residue as an active material for low-carbon cement, start in Nov 2020
- METABUILDING LABS - promoting innovative envelop solutions for buildings, start in Jan 2021
- SALEMA - Substitution of Critical Raw Materials in Aluminium Alloys for electrical vehicles, start in May 2021
Those projects are briefly described in a separate section below. The Innovation Hub secretariat is active mostly for LCA, policy, communication, and dissemination purposes.
In parallel, the Innovation Hub maintains close ties with Europe’s leading RTOs by organising a yearly Innovation Workshop. Up to now, five workshops have been organised, respectively at KULeuven University in 2016, the AMAP research cluster in Aachen in 2017, the SURF group - VUB University in Brussels in 2018 and at the NTNU - Trondheim in 2019. In 2020, the Innovation Hub organized in collaboration with CEA -Grenoble (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) its first Virtual Innovation Workshop.
The Innovation Hub will organise in 2021 the online Cross-Fertilisation Workshop, "Towards a more sustainable alumina production in Europe", in partnership with RemovAL and ReActiv.
Communication and networking
The Innovation Hub is active through an extensive stakeholder network, including policymakers, experts, and research institutes, primarily through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). More precisely, it is participating in the most relevant European PPPs:
- Processes4Planet platform (previously known as SPIRE, Sustainable Process Industry Resource and Energy Efficiency), bringing together ten sectors of the process industry seeking innovative technologies to improve resource and energy efficiency and supporting the deep transformation for European process industries to become circular and climate neutral by 2050.
- “Made in Europe” (previously “Factories of the Future”), which corresponds to the manufacturing partnership with the European Commission under the Framework Programme 'Horizon Europe' (2021_2027)
- “Built4people” (previously “Energy Efficient Buildings”), which aims at promoting and influencing the future of the Built Environment.
Additionally, the Innovation Hub is engaged in several other projects’ networks, such as RE4Industry and CircLean.
In 2019, the Innovation Hub intensified its communication activities through the circulation of an Innovation newsletter, to inform about its main activities in addition to innovation stories from its members and news on related projects, events, and proposals.
Promoting technical skills and knowledge
Additionally, the Innovation Hub has joined the Erasmus+ Project “Skills Alliance for Industrial Symbiosis – a cross-sectoral Blueprint for a Sustainable Process Industry (SPIRE-SAIS)”. This project aims to develop an industry-driven and proactive skills strategy that will assist the wider implementation and exploitation of industrial symbiosis and energy efficiency across the energy-intensive industrial sectors represented in SPIRE: chemicals, steel, engineering, non-ferrous metals, minerals, water, cement, and ceramics.
The Innovation Hub has enabled the redeployment of the aluSELECT database, by MATPLUS company. AluSELECT, is freely accessible after registration. Currently, it contains numerous information and data about the properties, applications and processability of 35 wrought aluminium alloys and 12 cast alloys which are accessible through a user-friendly and modern multi-criteria search and selection interface.
Promoting Innovation along the value chain through collaborative projects
- E2VENT - Innovative ventilated facades
European Aluminium was a partner of the HORIZON 2020 E2VENT (Energy Efficient Ventilated Facades for Optimal Adaptability and Heat Exchange) project. This collaborative project dealt with the novel Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) architectural concepts for the refurbishment of existing buildings.
E2VENT, finished in 2018, contributed to positioning aluminium ventilated claddings as building envelope solutions improving energy efficiency in new and existing buildings.
- RemovAL - Turning Bauxite residue into resources (Agreement n. 776469)
Launched in May 2018, RemovAL project aims to combine, optimise and scale-up processing technologies for extracting base and critical metals from such industrial residues and valorising the remaining processing residues in the construction sector. It is expected to be completed on Oct 2022. You can find more information here.
- AlSiCal - Looking at alternative routes to produce alumina (Agreement n. 820911)
Launched in September 2019, AlSiCal will further research, develop and de-risk a ground-breaking concept: the patented Aranda-Mastin technology. By integrating CO2 capture, this technology enables the co-production of three essential raw materials (alumina, silica and precipitated calcium carbonate), using new resources – e.g. anorthosite, abundantly available worldwide while avoiding bauxite residue and CO2 production. To learn more info, click here.
- CORALIS – Making Industrial symbiosis a business case (Agreement n. 958337)
The Innovation Hub is one of the partners of CORALIS, a Horizon 2020 project that seeks to demonstrate applicable solutions for Industrial Symbiosis aiming at energy and resources savings, in the framework of sustainability and circular economy. The main objective of CORALIS is to create pathways for the decarbonisation of resource and energy intensive sector value chains through the implementation of viable industrial symbiosis approaches combining new business and management strategies with innovative technology-based enablers. CORALIS has been designed as a demonstration project for the generation of real experiences on the deployment of IS solutions and the overcoming of the barriers faced by these initiatives. Please find more information here.
- ReActiv – Bauxite residue as an active material for low-carbon cement (Agreement n. 958208)
Started in Nov 2020, ReActiv project aims to create a novel sustainable symbiotic value chain, linking the by-product of the alumina production industry and the cement production industry. The new ReActiv technologies will modify the properties of the bauxite residue, transforming into an active material (with pozzolanic or hydraulic activity) suitable for new, low CO2 footprint, cement products. In this manner, ReActiv proposes a win-win scenario for both industrial sectors (reducing wastes and CO2 emissions respectively). To achieve its objectives the ReActiv project brings together the global leader in cement production with the European alumina producers along with top research and technology centers with significant expertise in the field. The Innovation Hub and the International Aluminium Institute are participating in the project to promote industrial dissemination and deployment of project results. To read more information, click here.
- METABUILDING LABS – promoting innovative envelop solutions for buildings (Agreement n. 953193)
METABUILDING LABS is an open Innovation Test Bed for the BUILDING envelope materials industrial sector using a harmonised and upgraded technical framework and living LABS. This project started in Jan 2021 and coordinated by Nobatek, aims to unleash the innovation potential of the SMEs of the construction sector by lowering the entry barriers to testing innovative solutions in a network of testing facilities in Research and Technology Organisations and Living Labs in 13 countries, mostly EU member states. More information can be found here.
- SALEMA - Substitution of Critical Raw Materials in Aluminium Alloys for electrical vehicles (Agreement 101003785)
The main objective of the SALEMA project is to produce novel aluminium alloys by minimising the content of Critical Raw Materials commonly used as alloying elements (Si & Mg) as well as by optimising their recycling from the scrap pool.. These alloys are mainly intended to produce lightweight parts for the car manufacturing industry with a special focus on the electric vehicle sector where weight is a critical attribute. This 3-years project will involve a consortium of 16 partners, including two European Aluminium members. To find out more details, click here.
JOIN OUR INNOVATION HUB COMMUNITY
- Academia and research institutes: submit project ideas for improving the aluminium value chain.
- Companies and experts: exchange innovative ideas around aluminium, particularly on enabling technologies.
- Policymakers: discover the advantages of aluminium and help develop funding programmes and instruments to realise this potential.
- Aluminium industry: are you a member of European Aluminium? You can become an Innovation Hub supporting member.
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