It’s been more than a year since we opened our Novelis Global Research & Technology Center in Kennesaw, Georgia. Here we answer a few questions about why we created the center and progress we’ve made since it opened:
Why did Novelis create the Center?
A: Innovation and sustainability are the foundation of Novelis’ strategy and will be critical drivers of our growth. As such, our R&D efforts need to be aligned with our customers’ priorities and driven by real business needs. To make that a reality, we decided to create a global hub where our metallurgists, scientists and engineers can work together under one roof – and be close to the global commercial and operational teams at our world headquarters just a few miles away in Atlanta. Our new R&T Center is dedicated to creating the product and process innovations that will keep Novelis at the forefront of our industry.
How do Novelis’ research and development priorities align with Novelis’ sustainability objectives?
A: They are inextricably linked. A huge portion of our R&D efforts are aimed at responding to sustainability drivers, such as using aluminum to reduce the weight of vehicles and improve fuel economy, or developing new alloys for packaging and consumer electronics that use more recycled material. We also are doing a lot of work that will help Novelis reach its goal recycling goals. We fundamentally believe that sustainability will be a key differentiator and competitive advantage for our company – and that innovation is key to unlocking it.
From a technology standpoint, what do you see as the biggest sustainability challenges facing Novelis?
A: On the process side, dross, a byproduct which forms on the surface of aluminum during melting is a big challenge. More than 70% of Novelis’ landfilled waste currently results from the production of dross during the melting process, and as we continue to expand our recycling operations, we are going to generate more dross. In the last year, we’ve made some headway on this issue with the development of new proprietary technology that speeds up the melting process and reduces dross generation. However, we know this is going to continue to be a big challenge as we work toward our zero-waste-to-landfill goal. On the product side, one of the biggest challenges will be finding and developing the technology to collect, sort and process more varied and dirtier kinds of scrap – that is, scrap that has been contaminated with food waste, trash and dirt. This is going to be a growing issue for us as we source more scrap from emerging economies where the recycling infrastructure isn’t as well developed.
This blog post was updated on January 15, 2016.