Nichols Aluminum is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly aluminum sheet producers in North America. Using specialized blending, melting, and continuous casting processes, it produces high quality aluminum sheet from predominantly recycled materials.
Aluminum is one of the world's most plentiful metals. Eight percent to twelve percent of the earth's crust is made of bauxite ore, a clay-like earth that varies in consistency from mud to soft rock. Bauxite contains 50 percent to 60 percent alumina, also known as aluminum oxide. When oxygen is removed from alumina by electricity, aluminum is produced. It takes 4 pounds of bauxite to net 2 pounds of alumina, and 2 pounds of alumina to net 1 pound of aluminum.
Understandably, the process by which aluminum is made is energy-intensive because it requires the use of vast amounts of electricity. Recycle that aluminum, however, and 95 percent of the energy used to mine and smelt it is saved.
Recycling Aluminum Offers Additional Advantages
Saves Energy - recycling aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy needed to create new aluminum from ore. This translates to approximately 6.5 to 7 kilowatt hours of electricity saved for each pound of metal recycled.
Reduces Emissions - Similar to the energy savings, recycling aluminum significantly reduces air emissions.
Minimizes Waste - Aluminum makes up less than 1 percent of municipal solid waste. Many materials claim to be recyclable but aluminum gets recycled because of its attractive economic value from the solid waste stream. More than 1/3 of the aluminum industry metal supply is sourced from recycled metal.
Continuous casting is the process of taking recycled aluminum materials; processing, blending and melting them to exact alloy chemistries, and solidifying liquid metal directly into strip form. This eliminates the need for capital intensive hot rolling equipment and the associated processing steps of fabricating large direct chill cast rolling slabs to sheet.
Additional advantages may be attained with the continuous casting process by feeding the as-cast aluminum slab directly into in line rolling mills, thereby reducing the number of rolling mill passes to achieve final gauge requirements. This results in improved yields and shorter processing time to final specifications.