As manufacturing plants are being under pressure to reduce their energy spending, many countries and companies are trying to make progress in innovating. some researchers from Germany and South Africa have proposed a technique to reduce the emission in metal processing factories. and will use South Africa’s large aluminium processing industry as a test bed.
In addition to powering electricity-generating turbines , the large mirrors can also melt metals thanks to their ability to concentrate solar rays. The process helps reducing carbon footprint of the metal processing industry.
The preliminary concept is going to be tested first in Germany at the Aerospace Centre's (DLR) by the Institute of Solar Research in Julich before launching it in South Africa.
According to these researchers, solar mirrors would focus sun rays reaching 700°C to a rotary solar kiln which will be able to melt aluminum ore but also recycled aluminum objects. In addition the research team will develop a logistics plan to transport the molten aluminium from the central solar melting plant to the production facilities where liquid metal will be processed.
"The aim of the project is to develop an energy and cost effective method that can be implemented across a variety of system sizes, depending on the requirements," said Martina Neises-von Puttkamer, project manager at DLR.
South Africa is a particularly interesting place to start the project because the country's metal processing facilities rely mostly on electric energy coming from coal-fired power plants which brought them to become the 15th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Also Metal processing is the country's largest industry.