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Hydro and Austin AI in automotive alloy sorting link-up

United States – Norwegian aluminium company Hydro has signed a co-operation agreement with sensor-based sorting equipment specialist Austin AI Inc. (AAI) of Texas in the USA for the joint development of an advanced technology to sort automotive aluminium alloys as a step towards more efficient, robust recycling of manufacturing scraps and subsequently used cars.

Regarding the persistent gap in clean fractioning of 5xxx and 6xxx alloys for recycling, AAI’as technology based on laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is said to yield advantages compared to other LIBS configurations and to have already produced good test results in terms of sorting these alloys for clear separation and clean recycling.

AAI will now install a pilot-scale sorting facility at Hydro’s research and development centre in Bonn, Germany. Together with AAI, Hydro scientists will gradually advance its processes and features. The aim is to increase the effectiveness of the sorting system and ensure high-quality results for the required throughput. Then, the technology can be expanded for full-scale industrial use.

‘We are optimistic and hope this will close the loop with automotive fabricator scrap and end-of-life vehicle scrap for new car body sheet, substantially saving energy, resources and process effort – another push for sustainable lightweighting with aluminium,’ comments Kjetil Ebbesberg, Hydro’s executive vice president who leads the rolled products business. ‘Thus, it is a next step on the way to make Hydro a preferred partner for car makers and a carbon neutral company by 2020.’

Klaus Vieregge, head of the research and development centre, adds: ‘By developing robust processes, based on LIBS technology, Hydro can accommodate the needs of our automotive industry customers for converting their production scrap today – and help to master future challenges in end-of-life recycling for cars, with more aluminium in them.’

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