A major opportunity to reduce emissions from production of steel and aluminium goods is to reduce the amount of metal used. In fact, if no other mechanism can be found but the emissions targets are to be met, this will be the option of last resort.
Many economic activities are strongly dependent on the supply of steel and aluminium, and for instance, halving the supply without compensation would be painful. However, three major options exist to reduce demand without such pain:
- Doubling the life of all metal products would halve the demand for new material to replace them, and could be supported by new business models based on maintenance, repair and upgrades.
- Reducing the amount of metal required to give a particular service – through structural optimisation or better logistics – has great potential in many applications, but hasn’t been pursued in developed countries because material prices are often relatively cheap compared to labour costs.
- Substitution of other materials may provide gains, although for many composite materials, the energy required to produce them can exceed that for the equivalent metal design.
The WellMet2050 project will explore all three of these opportunities, and develop technical demonstrations to show how the service received from steel and aluminium can be provided with less material input.