Alcoa spent $21 million to expand its Wheel and Transportation Products facility at its Barberton, Ohio, plant and now expects to cut in half the total amount of energy used to recycle aluminum for forged wheels.
Construction of the new 50,000-sq-foot casthouse began in July 2011 and is now running at full capacity. The casthouse takes chips and solids from an existing Alcoa wheel machining plant on the same campus in Barberton, as well as from Alcoa’s Cleveland forging plant, and recycles them into aluminum billets, which are then forged into wheels.
The casthouse is expected to significantly reduce energy use through a combination of process improvements and reduced transportation needs. Because the casthouse is located on the same campus as a production facility, it has resulted in dramatic reductions in transportation needs, leading to a nearly 90 percent cut in transportation-related energy use.
Alcoa would not provide details about its average energy bills or the return on investment of the casthouse.
The project is also part of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, through which Alcoa will share best practices, such as linking energy goals to compensation, to help other companies reduce their industrial energy intensity. The Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge is a program that helps companies identify innovative energy efficient solutions for their buildings and plants.
In terms of saving energy via transportation fuel, Kroger recently built an onsite anaerobic conversion system to help power its Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center in Compton, Calif. By siting the anaerobic system at the Ralphs distribution center, the same Kroger trucks that deliver food to grocery stores can bring food waste back, saving the company transportation fuel.