Aurubis has invested €85 million ($98.5 million) into a new technology, Reducing Diffuse Emissions (RDE), at its Hamburg site, the largest environmental protection installation in Hamburg since the 1980s. The RDE system uses an innovative exhaust system with ultra-fine filters and state-of-the-art installation technology to capture and reduce diffuse dust emissions in primary copper production.
Investing in innovative environmental protection measures is a long-standing practice at Aurubis. Since 2000, the Aurubis Group has invested €730 million (~ $753 million) in environmental protection measures in copper production, with €300 million ($347.7 million) invested at the Hamburg site alone. The latest €85 million ($98.5 million) investment in RDE technology will continue to enable the site’s increasingly environmentally focused operations in the future.
“With RDE, we’re setting new standards in environmentally friendly primary copper production and are expressing a clear commitment to sustainability as a result. …Today, our smelters are already among the cleanest worldwide. We are reducing the diffuse emissions in Hamburg’s primary copper production again significantly with the new installation and will be well below the future target and limit values.” – Dr. Heiko Arnold, COO of Aurubis AG
The RDE System
The RDE system is the extension of Aurubis’ constant efforts to reduce particulate emissions at its sites. Since 2000, dust emissions at the Hamburg site have continuously declined. The RDE system secures emissions that were previously technically impossible to capture, filtering out particles smaller than 10 μm, which is about the length of a single human red blood cell.
“The sheer scale of this environmental protection measure, and of the facilities installed in this context, is a first in our industry” – Dr. Heiko Arnold, COO of Aurubis AG
The roof openings on the primary smelter building were closed and connected to a suction system. The individual opening and suction systems are known as ridge turrets. Each 71m2 (764ft2) ridge turret can be closed automatically to activate the suctioning whenever emissions are expected or as needed. The ridge turrets are connected to a central pipeline. Up to 540,000 Nm3 of air per hour can be suctioned through the pipeline, which is equivalent to the volume of air needed to fill three hot air balloons in one minute. Worldwide, the RDE system is one of the most powerful systems of this kind in the branch.
The suctioned air flows through the central pipeline, which is 185m (607ft) long and 4.5m (15ft) in diameter, to a specialized filter unit containing more than 6,300 individual filtering elements. In the filtering process, the nano-sized dust particles are bonded through the introduction of precisely dosed quantities of lime and collected in the filter funnels.
The clean air is then sent through a 110m (361ft) chimney, and the collected particles are returned to the production cycle, creating a closed-loop system.
“With this important, large-scale project, Aurubis is investing in environmental technology and modernizing its plant at the same time. The new filter technology enables a massive reduction in fine dust particles and dustfall – and that’s good for the environment, for the neighborhood, for the employees. For an increasing number of companies, environmental protection is becoming one crucial way to secure their sites and thus make an important investment in the future. Aurubis demonstrates that it’s taking on a pioneering role in environmental protection with this project.” –Jens Kerstan, Hamburg Senator for the Environment
The Future of Sustainable Development at Aurubis
One component of RDE is the nearly emission-free processing of intermediate products from primary copper production in a new, closed building extension. This will also be connected to the exhaust system by 2022. Aurubis has committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest through ambitious goals that have been proven by the Science Based Targets initiative. Projects working to achieve these targets are ongoing through several decarbonization efforts, including the innovative use of industrial heat, power-to-steam procedures and the use of renewable solar and wind power for electricity generation. Advanced technological solutions, such as the RDE system at the Hamburg site, will continue to be part of the group’s commitment to sustainable, environmentally-friendly and responsible operations.
About Aurubis AG
Aurubis AG is a leading global provider of nonferrous metals and one of the largest copper recyclers worldwide. The company processes complex metal concentrates, scrap metals, organic and inorganic metal-bearing recycling materials, and industrial residues into metals of the highest quality. Aurubis manufactures more than one million tonnes of copper cathodes annually, which are used to produce wire rod, continuous cast shapes, profiles, and flat rolled products. Aurubis produces a number of other metals as well, including precious metals, selenium, lead, nickel, tin, and zinc. The portfolio also includes additional products such as sulfuric acid and iron silicate.
About the International Copper Association
The International Copper Association (ICA) brings together the global copper industry to develop and defend markets for copper and make a positive contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ICA has offices in three primary regions: Asia, Europe and North America. ICA and its Copper Alliance® partners are active in more than 60 countries worldwide.