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
On a regular basis, 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, two H2020 proposals have been selected for funding: the RemovAL project, which started in May 2018, and the AlSiCal project, which started in September 2019. The Innovation Hub secretariat is active in those projects mostly for LCA, policy, communication, and dissemination purposes. Both projects are described in a separate section. In parallel, the Innovation Hub maintains close ties with Europe’s leading RTOs by organising a yearly Innovation Workshop. Up to now, four 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.
Communication and networking activities
The Innovation Hub is active through an extensive stakeholder network, including policymakers, experts, and research institutes, primarily through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The Innovation Hub has joined the European Commission’s SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry Resource and Energy Efficiency) platform, bringing together eight sectors of the process industry seeking innovative technologies to improve resource and energy efficiency.
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 also enabled the redeployment of the ALUSELECT database, managed by MATPLUS and now available after free registration. ALUSELECT, was developed more than 10 years ago, contains numerous information and data about the properties, applications and processability of 35 wrought aluminium alloys and 12 cast alloys. Thanks to this platform, the user will have access to a user-friendly and modern interface for selecting alloys and searching properties.
Promoting Innovation along the value chain through collaborative projects
- Innovative ventilated facades – the E2VENT project
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.
- Turning Bauxite residue into resources – the RemovAL project
Launched in May 2018, the 4-years RemovAL project will combine, optimise and scale-up developed processing technologies for extracting base and critical metals from such industrial residues and valorising the remaining processing residues in the construction sector.
The ambition of RemovAL is straightforward: to overcome environmental issues and technological barriers related to the aluminium industry by combining and advancing existing technologies for the sustainable processing of bauxite residue, spent pot lines, and other by-products, generating revenue.
- Looking at alternative routes to produce alumina – the AlSiCal project
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.
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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