Aalto University is taking part in a new project in which Finland’s leading metals producers and research organisations are developing solutions for significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the metal processing industry. The project, Towards Carbon-neutral Metals, TOCANEM, contributes to realization of national and EU level low-carbon roadmap.
The project lays the groundwork for the large investments required for carbon-neutral metals production. The aim of the project is to regularise Finland’s position as a forerunner and commercializer of process innovations and process technologies as well as to strengthen knowhow on use of electricity and hydrogen in metals production.
‘The project leads metals production industry significantly towards the carbon-neutrality target set in Finland and it promotes strategic renewal of the ecosystem’, says professor and project’s principal investigator Timo Fabritius from University of Oulu.
Professors Ari Jokilaakso, Mari Lundström and Daniel Lindberg with their research groups from Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering are involved in the project. The research at Aalto University contributes especially to developing carbon-free production of ferrochrome, an alloy used in the manufacture of stainless steel. In addition, the carbon-neutral recovery of valuable and critical metals from by-products or effluents from the production of non-ferrous metals, such as slag and leach residues, is investigated.
’The aim of our research is to minimize the unusable proportion and to remove or replace the carbon used in the processes with alternative, carbon-neutral materials,’ says Professor Ari Jokilaakso.
In 2019, metals producers employed 15 000 people and the turnover was 11 billion Euros. The share of metal products of Finnish visible exports was 12 percent and the export comprised 80 percent of the gross sales.
‘The aim of regulating status as a forerunner in carbon-neutral technologies and products as well as circular economy strengthens Finnish metals producers’ position in global market. It has a positive impact on economic life in Finland and it creates new business and jobs’, adds Kimmo Järvinen, the CEO of The Association of Finnish Steel and Metal Producers.
Companies Boliden Harjavalta, Boliden Kokkola, Freeport Cobalt, Fortum, Metso Outotec and Outokumpu are responsible for piloting the processes developed in the project. Kivisampo, Owatec and Sapotech comprise the SME partners. In addition, Metsä Group, Ovako and SSAB are collaborative partners in the project.
The research organizations in the project are Aalto University, LUT University, University of Oulu, Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and Åbo Akademi. The project employs 40 researchers in the participating research organizations. University of Oulu coordinates the project.