Aluminum cans recycled scrap metal

DOE to fund up to $934.6M in aluminum, copper decarb projects

Written by Stephanie Ritenbaugh

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Monday five projects that will receive up to $934.6 million in funding to support decarbonization efforts in the aluminum and metals industries.

The projects are part of a larger, $6-billion DOE agenda funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The funding will be awarded to 33 projects across several energy-intensive industries, such as cement and concrete, chemicals and refining, and iron and steel.

“The five selected aluminum and metals projects include a major capital injection to decarbonize and revitalize the U.S. primary aluminum industry along with world-leading recycling approaches for both aluminum and copper,” the DOE stated.

“After decades of decline, these investments lay the groundwork for a potential rebound of this critical sector,” the DOE continued. “These investments aim to improve U.S. industry’s competitiveness and efficiency while simultaneously decarbonizing and onshoring supply chains for materials critical for defense and energy sectors.

In addition to the high-purity aluminum needed for the defense and energy sectors, the selections include projects that would create recycled aluminum for the food and beverage industry and copper for semiconductors and electric vehicles, according to the DOE.

The projects are as follows:

1. Wieland North America Recycling was awarded up to $270 million for an advanced copper recycling facility in Shelbyville, Kentucky

2. Century Aluminum Company was awarded up to $500 million for a green aluminum smelter to be located in Kentucky or the 2. Ohio/Mississippi River Basins

3. Constellium was awarded up to $75 million for a low-carbon SmartMelt furnace conversion in Ravenswood, West Virginia

4. Golden Aluminum was awarded up to $22.3 million for a Nexcast – Next Generation Aluminum Mini Mill in Fort Lupton, Colorado

5. Real Alloy Recycling was awarded up to $67.3 million for a Zero Waste advanced aluminum recycling project in Wabash, Indiana.

Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process and DOE may cancel the funding, it said.

The DOE said the combined 33 projects are expected to reduce the equivalent of more than 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year — about the same annual emissions of 3 million gasoline-powered cars.

“It is difficult to overstate the potential significance of this award for the American aluminum industry,” said Joe Quinn, Director of the Center for Strategic Industrial Materials (C-SIM) at SAFE, a Washington D.C.-based group that advocates for domestic energy sources.

“A new domestic smelter puts the U.S. back in the game and reverses our dangerous, decades-long decline in primary aluminum production,” Quinn said. “The Biden administration is now appropriately prioritizing the ‘miracle metal’ as part of our reindustrialization strategy. This is an important first step, but our work is far from over.”

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