Hamburg-based Aurubis investing EUR 40 million in H2-ready furnaces

Copper producer's technology to save CO2 emissions - anode furnaces to be installed next spring
23 August 2023

The Hamburg-based copper producer, Aurubis, announced plans Friday (August 4, 2023) to invest EUR 40 million in hydrogen-capabe anode furnaces instead of gas in spring 2024. The conversion would make the  company "one of the first copper smelters worldwide" to use hydrogen. The new technology is expected to save around 1,200 tons of CO2 per year in Hamburg.

30 per cent cuts use of natural gas

Roland Harings, CEO of Aurubis AG, said: "By replacing the anode furnaces, we are achieving another milestone in our decarbonization strategy. At present, there is barely enough green hydrogen to cover German industry’s huge demand at competitive prices. We are leading the way and showing that we are prepared." The conversion will prepare the group for the hydrogen age. The new anode furnaces will help decarbonize Aurubis’ production before enough hydrogen comes on the market. The furnaces function more efficiently and consume about 30 per cent less natural gas thereby potentially saving nearly 1,200 t of CO2 per annum. If only hydrogen were used, about 5,000 tons of CO2 per annum could be saved. Production is set to become more flexible and better able to extract valuable raw materials such as nickel. 

Aurubis aiming for climate-neutral production before 2050

In May 2021, Aurubis showed that hydrogen can be used successfully in production. A pilot project at the Hamburg plant produced copper anodes using hydrogen instead of natural gas – the first use of hydrogen on an industrial scale. The company has focused on environment and climate-friendly production for some time, it said. The carbon footprint of the main product, copper cathodes, has decreased by 36 per cent since 2013 and the footprint of its plants is now more than 60 per cent lower than the global industry average. The figure for tin is even better as Aurubis is 76 per cent below the global average. The company is aiming for carbon-neutral well before 2050.