American aluminium rolling and recycling giant Novelis broke ground on a new aluminium recycling plant in Nachterstedt, Germany, next to its existing rolling mill, in November 2012. The $258m project, which is the world’s biggest aluminium recycling and casting facility, produces 400,000t of aluminium sheet ingot a year from recycled material.

Used beverage cans and other types of aluminium scrap from European countries are recycled at the plant, which ensures that more scrap is recycled locally and that the end product has a significantly smaller environmental footprint. Recycling helps to offset 95% of greenhouse gases emitted during aluminium production.

The plant successfully cast the first full-sized trial ingot measuring nearly 10m-long in June 2014, while commercial production of recycled aluminium began in October 2014. The project created 200 new jobs in the region.

Construction of the world’s largest aluminium recycling facility

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The recycling plant and office building covering a total area of 55,000m² were constructed in partnership with Köster. The two companies celebrated the plant’s roofing ceremony, a German tradition, in June 2013.

The foundry’s construction involved challenging civil engineering techniques. A lower basement was constructed and two jacket tubes with a depth of 30m were drilled to make space for the hydraulic cylinders. Braced and overlapped bored pile walls were erected to secure the basement.

The building consists of 230 steel columns with a height of 28m and weighing 85t, and the roof is supported by 150 trusses. Interior work and equipment installation followed the roofing ceremony.

Recycling process at the Novelis aluminium plant

"The Novelis aluminium recycling plant is the world’s biggest aluminium recycling and casting facility." 

State-of-the-art technologies are used at the plant to shred, sort and treat 18 different types of industrial and consumer aluminium scrap such as beverage cans, automotive process scrap, as well as coated and lacquered aluminium items.

Eddy-current separators, optical sensors and other sensors ensure high-speed sorting. The scrap is shredded and melted down in large melting furnaces. Degassing and filtration units are used to remove impurities from the molten metal, which is then be cast into large ingots.

The ingots produced are further processed at Novelis’ manufacturing facilities across Europe, including the automotive finishing line that is under construction at the Nachterstedt rolling plant. The resulting superior-quality aluminium sheets are used in can-making and automotive sectors to produce lightweight vehicle structures and body panels.

Equipment installed at the Nachterstedt recycling plant

"State-of-the-art technologies are used to shred, sort and treat 18 different types of industrial and consumer aluminium scrap." 

The cutting-edge Nachterstedt recycling and casting plant is a model facility and a reference point for future recycling projects by Novelis.

The recycling equipment for the plant was provided by Novelis PAE, a subsidiary of Novelis, and installation began in November 2013. Novelis PAE supplied key parts for two advanced slab casting machines equipped with in-line metal treatment systems, and an automation and supervision package.

Two large metal treatment units were ordered in June 2013 to ensure high-grade aluminium ingot production. The ALPUR TS-90 in-line degassing unit is totally sealed (TS) and consists of four rotors and four immersion heaters. The in-line ceramic foam filter (CFF) 2in x 26in filtration unit also has a high-capacity level to filter liquid metal flowing through its porous ceramic foam. The cost-effective ’tile saver’ technology allows the immersed filtration tile to be reused up to ten times.