With the demand for automotive aluminium accelerating in the US, Linde LLC is focusing its global expertise in oxyfuel technology on improving both the casthouse processing and heat treating of aluminium and aluminium alloy products.

Earlier this year, gasworld explored the increasing mandate for metallurgy, with a potential new wave of growth emerging in the aluminium business.

Aluminium has been in tight supply in 2015, as a number of demand drivers create challenges in supply. Demand for the commodity took a sharp decline worldwide as a result of the 2008 economic downturn, creating a situation of over-supply, shrinking prices, and serious stockpiling.

Continuing market volatility in the last half-decade has seen consumption increase again, however, and significant demand this year is understood to be driven by the US auto industry’s shift toward lighter weight vehicles, as it seeks to satisfy new 54.5mpg corporate average fuel-efficiency (CAFE) targets for 2025.

Vehicle manufacturers reportedly plan to use more aluminium in doors, bonnets and other car parts over the next few years, including plans for aluminium-bodied pick-ups – and so, the exigency for this non-ferrous metal increases.

Linde LLC previously noted that as aluminium-cast parts manufacturers increasingly engage in vertical integration to ensure a continuous supply of raw materials, this drives the construction of smelters to increase secondary production from recycled content – as well as boosting downstream production of finished aluminium-based products.

With secondary aluminium production in the US ramping up again from the scaled-back capacities of previous years, the challenge is to either add energy or improve the energy efficiency of the process to increase melting capacity. Linde’s Low-Temperature Oxyfuel (LTOF) technology addresses this problem by replacing air-fuel combustion with oxyfuel combustion that is characterised by low flame temperatures.

Car manufacturing robot

At the Aluminum Show 2015 in Detroit next week (11th – 12th November), Linde will introduce its advanced LTOF technology for re-melting aluminium, and highlight research into the Linde Direct Flame Impingement (DFI) process which uses oxyfuel to assist in the heat treating of aluminium sheet.

Secondary aluminum processors serving the automotive industry can quickly improve productivity with Linde LTOF technology, which can be installed or retrofitted to virtually any aluminum remelt operation to improve fuel efficiency, boost melting rates, and reduce the generation of nitrous oxides (NOx) associated with air-fuel combustion.

“We developed Low-Temperature Oxyfuel technology to meet the challenge of maintaining or increasing re-melting rates with high levels of solid charge materials, typical of secondary aluminium operations in the US,” said Tony Palermo, Program Manager, Metallurgy, Linde LLC.

“Recycled aluminium feedstock will be increasingly critical to meet demand, so this is a win-win-win for auto companies, aluminium companies, and the environment.”