In 2015, European Aluminium established its Innovation Hub to better connect the aluminium industry with the EU innovation agenda. The Innovation Hub is a collaborative industrial platform that members of European Aluminium can join voluntarily. Currently, the Hub has 15 member companies and two market groups dealing with building and automotive.
This innovation Hub has three main objectives:
- Boosting and coordinating collaborative R&D initiatives and efforts along the aluminium value chain by stimulating networking and cooperation with the R&D community through several activities like workshops
- Positioning aluminium as a key innovation enabler in the EU research landscape. We are active in Private Public Partnership like Processes4Planet, Made in Europe and Energy-efficient Buildings.
- Participating in collaborative projects and facilitating access to these projects for its members.
In this respect, the Hub is currently involved in 9 collaborative projects, as illustrated below.
Portfolio of collaborative projects in which European Aluminium’s Innovation Hub is involved (May 2021)
Among these nine projects, the following six projects are funded by Horizon 2020:
- RemovAL, start in May 2018,
- AlSiCal start in Sept 2019,
- CORALIS, start in Oct 2020,
- ReActiv, start in Nov 2020,
- METABUILDING LABS, start in Jan 2021,
- SALEMA, start in May 2021
The mentioned EU projects cover the entire aluminium value chain: starting from RemovAL, the flagship project initiated in 2018 dealing with the processing routes to valorise bauxite residues and AlsicAl, which aims to produce alumina, silica and precipitated calcium carbonate, using a new production route from mineral resources, abundantly available worldwide. The recent project ReActiv is highly complementary since it will create a novel sustainable symbiotic value chain, transforming bauxite residue into a reactive material suitable for new, low CO2 footprint cement products by proposing a win-win scenario for both sectors.
The Innovation Hub also contributes to the Erasmus+ Project, “Skills Alliance for Industrial Symbiosis (SAIS) – a cross-sectoral blueprint for a Sustainable Process Industry (SPIRE)”. The project’s main objective is to identify and proactively address the future skills demand across SPIRE sectors, especially in connection to digitalisation and industrial symbiosis.
In 2019, the Hub also facilitated one collaborative project directly financed by four members: the FORMALUB project, which aims to better understand and predict the formability of Aluminium Body Sheet (ABS).
In addition, two new Horizon 2020 projects started in 2021. The first project called SALEMA, aims to substitute Critical Raw Materials commonly used as alloying elements (Si & Mg) in automotive applications or to optimise their recycling from the scrap pool. The second project called METABUILDING LABS (Open Innovation Test Bed for the building of the envelope materials industrial sector) strives to unleash the innovation potential of the SMEs of the construction sector by lowering the entry barriers to testing innovative solutions in a network of testing facilities in Research and Technology Organisations and Living Labs.
The Innovation Hub and Raffmetal, one of its members, are actively involved in CORALIS. The Innovation Hub is mostly in charge of communicating and testing the key findings, tools and indicators to the European aluminium industry, especially in the context of industrial symbiosis projects in which aluminium companies are directly involved, like in the RemovAl and ReActiv projects. The Innovation Hub will also organise one or two workshops with the European aluminium industry. In addition, European Aluminium will disseminate the key CORALIS results to its members via various channels, including presentations during events and internal and external newsletters.
As a result, CORALIS will contribute to position the aluminium sector as a key player in industrial symbiosis, promoting cross-sectoral partnership in the primary raw material or recycling value chain.
Author & Photos: © European Aluminium
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