Aluminum Waste Recycling
The aluminum waste recycling business unit recovers aluminum contained in various different types of waste. Befesa does this by collecting and transporting waste and aluminum scrap metal, carrying out its integral recovery and producing and marketing secondary aluminium alloys. Recycled aluminum waste is primarily used to produce alloys, which are then sold to the construction and automotive industries and turned into components. It is worth noting that this line of business is particularly effective at reducing CO2 emissions. Befesa carries out these activities at three plants - Biscay, Valladolid and Barcelona (Spain).
The sector rallied over the course of 2010, which also witnessed sharp growth in sales and prices. Against this backdrop, Befesa remained a market leader and key player not only in Spain, where its leadership is unquestionable, but also in Europe.
Work continued in 2010 to integrate the three production plants in Erandio, Valladolid and Granollers, which has enabled the company to continue streamlining overheads and improving administrative management. All actions and initiatives undertaken during the year were intended to increase the productivity of the various plants, reduce energy costs and improve the end service provided to customers. In 2010, Befesa recycled roughly 175,000 t of various types of aluminum waste, leading to 105,000 t of alloy production and sales and avoiding the equivalent of 1 Mt of direct CO2 emissions.
Befesa’s aluminum waste recycling system involves the recovery and integral valorization of all the waste generated by the aluminum industry and also the goods produced from aluminium at the end of its life cycle. It is precisely the salt slag recycling business that brings this process round full circle and makes it a meaningful venture.
As is also the case with the manufacture of parts and other products, oxides and other impurities are incorporated along the aluminum production value chain. The valorization of these is more costly, both because of the technical difficulties involved in the industrial process and because of the lower financial value of the products that can be recovered.
Befesa has developed its own technology, thereby helping to ensure the sustainability of the aluminium industry. Due to its physical and chemical properties and in particular its lightness, aluminium plays a crucial role in helping to curb greenhouse gases within the transportation sector.
Salt slag valorization plants are also able to recover other types of waste from the aluminium industry, such as gas filtering dust from smelting furnaces and the dust obtained from milling and grinding aluminum dross.
The company has also been treating the waste produced by primary aluminum electrolysis (SPL) since 2009. This hazardous waste, which contains cyanides and soluble fluoride salts, is generated during the process of obtaining primary aluminum from minerals. Due to the significant volume of waste generated, 22 kg per ton of primary
aluminum to be precise, the need to recycle SPL has become one of the industry’s most pressing environmental challenges. To date, there have only been partial treatments of the waste and most ends up being dumped at authorized sites. Befesa, on the other hand, offers fully-comprehensive management with integral waste recovery to provide leading waste producers with a definitive solution.
In 2009, Befesa acquired three salt recovery plants in Germany, making it Europe’s leading salt slag management company. In addition, its technological know-how will enable it to expand towards other geographical markets, such as the United States and Eastern Europe. Befesa continued work over 2010 to fully integrate these plants into the organizational structure and to implement Befesa’s joint management systems. This has enabled the company to treat an additional 240,000 t of waste, thereby returning to the industry a similar volume of secondary raw materials. Furthermore, Befesa’s plant in the United Kingdom is now a fully operating waste treatment plant for the waste generated from used primary aluminum electrolytic cells (otherwise known as spent potlining, or SPL).
Befesa is thus contributing to sustainable development through five plants specifically designed to treat this type of waste. The plants in question are located in Valladolid (Spain), Whitchurch (United Kingdom) and Lünen, Hannover and Töging (Germany) and have a combined capacity of 630,000 t. The company also manages smaller amounts of other waste from the primary and secondary aluminum industries.
Befesa treated 375,000 t of waste over 2010, marking a yearonyear leap of 57 %. All this waste is fully converted into raw materials that can be used by industry (aluminum, molten salts and aluminum oxide). The company’s salt slag recycling activity has eliminated the need to mine 267,100 t of non-renewable raw materials (mineral oxides and salts) and to dump 224,200 t of hazardous waste.
Befesa’s strategic goals and business processes mirror the commitments assumed by the aluminum industry: to eliminate, in the mid-term, the dumping of solid waste directly and indirectly generated by industry. The company is working tirelessly to incorporate innovative treatment technologies for valorizing other types of waste, thereby helping the industry to move forward in a sustainable manner.
So, a key element of Befesa’s strategy is to dedicate 300 m2 of its Valladolid plant to research and development exclusively. This lot adjoins a facility operated by Befesa Escorias Salinas and Befesa Aluminio’s works. The availability of operating R&D staff and the proximity of industrial facilities producing input materials and Befesa Escorias Salinas’ analysis lab - the Befesa Reciclaje de Residuos de Aluminio group’s biggest - make this the ideal location for centralizing and reinforcing research and development in the chosen fields. The R&D facility’s starting equipment will comprise a rotary furnace having 1 t of loading capacity and fitted with a gas treatment system and an aluminum and salt slag evacuation system. Other features will be an innovative eddy current pilot plant to enrich aluminum fines and extra fines, a small impact mill and a blade mill, and a conventional eddy current separator. The project is backed by an initial budget of €60,000.
The machinery and technology sales division provides technical support to the aluminium waste recycling plants, and is engaged in the design, construction, assembly and start-up of installations for the aluminum and zinc industries. It boasts an extensive portfolio of more than 100 installations in 40 different countries. Its main products
include automated lines for producing 5-25 kg aluminum ingots, casting wheels, rotary ovens and sludge cooling and treatment facilities.
Of the many projects undertaken in 2010, highlights include the start-up of two casting lines for the company Emal (United Arab Emirates); the launch of three molding linesfor Qatalum (Qatar); the manufacture and assembly of four molding lines with trailer loader system for Vedanta (India); and the start-up of a casting line for Rusal (Liberia). Despite the difficulties stemming from the widespread slump in investment, this business unit has completed all its projects and its order intake effectively guarantees work for the next twelve months.