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BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena

AdaptAl - Adaptiv Control of Aluminium Manufacturing

Alternative title: AdaptAl - Adaptiv styring av aluminium produksjon

Awarded: NOK 8.7 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2020 - 2024

Funding received from:


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30 Years of Research Yield Greener Aluminium Products Using artificial intelligence, chairs from Flokk have become 200 grams lighter. This saves energy, reduces material usage, and makes the chairs cheaper in stores. The CO2 footprint has decreased from 35 to 14 kg per chair by using recycled aluminium. With an annual production of 30,000 to 60,000 chairs, this means a reduction of up to 1,260 tons of CO2 annually, says Ole Runar Myhr, researcher and professor from Hydro. The UN's goal is to prevent global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees to avoid severe consequences such as extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, and food shortages. Reducing CO2 emissions in the industry is essential to achieve this goal by 2050. High Demand for Climate-Friendly Aluminium Production World aluminium production has nearly doubled in ten years. Aluminium is a key industry in Norway, used in everything from cars to furniture and packaging. Due to its strength and lightness, the metal is in demand, especially in the transportation sector. Aluminium is also ideal for recycling. As aluminium production increases, there is more "post-consumer scrap" (used waste) available. With 2 percent of the world's production, Norway plays a crucial role in an industry that is growing rapidly and with an increasing need for environmentally friendly methods. Long-Term Research Yields Significant Social Benefits In the innovation project AdaptAl, Hydro, Flokk, Raufoss Teknologi, IDT Solutions, NTNU, and Sintef collaborate to develop technology for more sustainable production and better utilization of aluminium and consumer waste. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by optimizing production, increasing the proportion of "post-consumer scrap," and thereby reducing energy and material usage, leading to lighter products. This can, in turn, result in more cheaper products in stores. The technology is based on over 30 years of research in collaboration with Sintef and NTNU, with significant funding from the Research Council. According to Myhr, the long-term and targeted research has been crucial in developing the technology used in the AdaptAl project. Digital Twin: The Way to Optimization In AdaptAl, the digital twin PRO3 is used to optimize the production process, including the recycling of aluminium alloys. PRO3 is a digital tool that can predict and improve production efficiency, considering production costs and CO2 emissions. It has the capacity to ensure that products based on consumer waste meet the increasing quality demands from customers, says Trond Furu, research director at Hydro Corporate Technology Office. Furu believes that this digital tool can help manage and utilize an increasing proportion of consumer waste in the future. In practice, PRO3 analyses data to recommend adjustments to the production process. For example, if the system notices that a specific alloy can be produced more efficiently at a higher temperature, it will suggest this change. This ensures that each product, whether a chair or a car component, is both solid and reliable, and produced with minimal environmental impact at a lower cost. Investment in Sustainable Material When aluminium re-melted, only 5 percent of the energy is used compared to the production of virgin (“primary”) metal. Regardless of whether the end product is a car component or a chair, strict requirements are mandatory. If, for example, the geometric shape is not accurate enough for the product requirements, the part often must be rejected. This can mean significant economic losses for manufacturing companies. Hydro and its partners are therefore working to develop the PRO3 technology, allowing more aluminium parts to pass through and ending up as a finished product that meets customer requirements. This, in turn, contributes to fewer parts being discarded. With PRO3, we make calculations using advanced mathematical models to see if production is going well or not. Cafeteria Chair with a Record-Low CO2 Footprint Furniture manufacturer Flokk, in collaboration with Hydro, SINTEF, and NTNU, used the digital twin PRO3 to design an aluminium cafeteria chair. The goal was to significantly reduce the CO2 footprint by using as much used aluminium scrap (i.e. “post-consumer scarp”) as possible. They chose Hydro's brand Circal 75R, which guarantees that a minimum of 75 percent of the material is recycled from used aluminium scrap. With the help of the digital twin PRO3, the chair could be made 200 grams lighter than the baseline, while reducing the CO2 footprint from 35 to 14 kg per chair without compromising the chair's properties. This optimization results in a sturdy and lightweight chair made of recycled aluminium with a low CO2 footprint, says Christian Lodgaard, senior vice president at Flokk.

Oppnådde og potensielle virkninger og effekter basert på prosjektets resultater Virkninger (på prosjektets deltagere og omgivelser) Endringer i kompetanse Kompetanse utviklet i prosjektet er forventet å bli videreført i bedriftene som har deltatt. Som et eksempel på kompetanse som er utviklet og implementert, er følgende sitat fra Christian Lodgaard, Senior Vice President i HÅG: «HÅG Celi, det første produktet som bygger på kunnskap, teknologi og materialer utviklet gjennom AdaptAl, er til dags dato det produktet i porteføljen med lavest klimafotavtrykk og høyest vekt-andel post-consumer materialbruk. På denne måten en demonstrator av hvor langt vi kan nå, og en spydspiss i bedriftens miljøarbeid». Endringer i adferd Nettverkene som er dannet er basert på et nært samarbeid mellom forskningsinstitutter, universitet og bedrifter. Nettverkene er forventet å bestå etter prosjektets avslutning, og det foregår allerede videreføring av samarbeid mellom flere av partnerne i prosjektet på nye case-studier. Dette betyr at det i fremtiden vil være enklere for bedriftene som har deltatt i prosjektet å kontakte forskere i SINTEF og NTNU med spørsmål knyttet til produkter og prosesser, og at kommunikasjonen forenkles ved at man kjenner hverandre og har erfaring med å jobbe sammen. Dette vil kunne initiere fremtidige forskningsprosjekter med deltagere fra både industri og forskningsmiljøer. Endringer i praksis Arbeidsmetodikken er endret for bedriftene i prosjektet. For noen av bedriftene, er dette et av de første skrittene i retning av utstrakt bruk av simuleringer i produktutviklingsfasen, mens for andre bedrifter i prosjektet som allerede benytter avanserte simuleringer, er metodikken som er videreutviklet i AdaptAl en metode som kan differensiere produktene som fremstilles fra konkurrentenes, og dermed gi en konkurransefordel. Effekter Langsiktige endringer på samfunnsnivå Effektene av prosjektet vil være en vedvarende forandring i produksjonsmetode under utvikling av nye produkter, ved at man baserer seg på avansert teknologi i stedet for kun å stole på erfaring. Innføring av avanserte simuleringsverktøy som PRO3 er nødvendig for at norske bedrifter skal være konkurransedyktige i fremtiden. Prosjektet har derfor bidratt til endringer på samfunnsnivå ved at bedriftene i prosjektet i fremtiden vil ha økt fokus på å optimalisere materialbruken og benytte brukt skrap («post consumer scrap») som råstoff i så stor grad som mulig. Dette vil kunne bidra til å redusere CO2-utslipp og dermed bidra til å redusere global oppvarming. I tillegg, vil metodikken som er videreutviklet, bidra til å redusere energi- og materialbruk, hvilket også har en positiv miljøeffekt.

The overall idea of the project is to develop and demonstrate a product-service-system that integrate multi-physics models, process models, advanced sensors, and virtual data through an optimizing software. The basis for the product-service system is a digital twin called PRO3, which operates through the aluminium process chain. PRO3 has been developed by Hydro during the last ten years and is presently used to simulate and optimize process parameters for internal and external customers in Hydro. In this project, the application of the software is extended to adaptive control. Each process step in the aluminium value chain is associated with process variations as well as variations in chemical composition of the alloy. Without an overall, predictive and adaptive process control system, these variations can accumulate outside tolerance specifications, which may lead to huge added production costs in terms of scrapped components and parts. The adaptive control system that is developed in the project will be demonstrated through extrusion and forming processes on products from the consortium companies within the markets automotive, furniture and sports. Hydro, Raufoss Technology, Flokk and IDT Solutions are all innovative Norwegian manufacturers, emphasizing added value sustainable products for global markets.

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Funding scheme:

BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena