Alcoa's new $21 million Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products cast house expansion at its Barberton, Ohio, plant is expected to cut in half the total amount of energy used to recycle aluminum for forged wheels.
The recycling facility, the first of its kind in North America, uses advanced technology to produce wheels from re-melted and scrap aluminum. Construction of the 50,000-square-foot facility began in July 2011. It is now up and running at full capacity and is expected to recycle 100 million pounds of aluminum a year.
That 100 million pounds of recycled scrap aluminum is enough to make 2 million new Alcoa forged aluminum wheels. The cast house takes chips and solids from an existing Alcoa wheel machining plant on the same campus in Barberton, as well as from Alcoa’s Cleveland forging plant, and recycles them into aluminum billets. The billets are then shipped to other wheel-processing facilities to forge into aluminum wheels.
The cast house is expected to significantly reduce energy use through a combination of process improvements and reduced transportation needs. The facility is located on the campus of an existing production facility, which has led to dramatic reductions in transportation needs, leading to an approximately 90% cut in transportation-related energy use.
“This new, more energy-efficient facility makes our 100% recyclable aluminum wheels even more environmentally friendly,” said Kevin Anton, Alcoa’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “This project is also part of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, through which we will share best practices – such as linking energy goals to compensation – to help other companies reduce their industrial energy intensity.”
The Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge is a program that helps sustainable companies identify innovative energy efficient solutions for their buildings and plants. President Obama launched the Better Buildings Challenge to help America’s commercial and industrial buildings become at least 20% more efficient over the next decade.