Smelters shut up shop, Novelis refuses Russian aluminium & Honda secures metals supply.
You know the war in Ukraine carries on, the economy is tanking, energy prices are rocketing and we’re headed for an almighty recession, but what’s happening in the world of metal and metal supply? Let’s explore some stories about metal innovation, science, and discovery and dive into the latest metals news, fresh from your trusted cast iron, steel, brass and specialist aluminium supplier.
Smelters in the EU and elsewhere ‘halting operations’
Europe is struggling to cope with their own energy price rises, less serious than the UK’s but still a disaster. The region’s industrial metals sector has seen two more smelters planning to halt their operations. Nyrstar’s Budel zinc smelter in the Netherlands has been placed in ‘care and maintenance’ until further notice, and Norsk Hydro is going to power-down its Slovalco aluminium smelter in Slovakia completely by the end of the month, the fourth EU smelter to shut down over the past year.
Alcoa has already taken its Spain-based San Ciprian smelter offline for two years, and vital smelters in the Netherlands and Montenegro have shut down as well. Romania’s Alro plant is idling and all their other plants are doing what they can to avoid using power at peak times when it is most expensive. Experts predict more similar announcements, simply because smelting raw materials into refined metal is so energy-intensive.
China has also been struggling thanks to the heatwaves affecting smelters. A serious drought in Sichuan province means there’s power rationing, forcing metals processors to stop work. This includes Lithium operations, which hints at a future shortage of so-called energy transition metals and even more supply problems. And there’s already power rationing taking place in various Chinese provinces. The unprecedented heatwave over there lasted 65 days, from mid-June to the end of August.
Novelis refuses to buy Russian aluminium
Novelis is one of the biggest aluminium buyers on the planet. They’ve said they’ll refuse Russian metal in any new deals to supply its European factories next year, even though Russia’s Rusal is the world’s third biggest aluminium producer. Novelis has issued a tender for 2023’s EU plant supplies, specifying that no metal ‘of Russian origin’ would be included in deals.
Honda secures long term metals supply for electric car batteries
Honda Motor Company has formed a partnership with the Hanwa trading company to ensure a stable supply of the metals used in electric car batteries, including essential nickel, cobalt and lithium. The partnership is going to be medium to long term, intended to help the vehicle maker meet the challenges of ever-stricter environmental regulations and maintain booming sales of greener cars. Hanwa’s resource procurement expertise sits at the heart of Honda’s decision.
Powerful 3mm gearbox
A 3mm long gearbox driven by an external magnetic field has allowed a soft robot to jump almost 40 times its own height. It’s all down to the talented Chong Hong at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany and his colleagues. Their mini-gearbox has teeny weeny cogs measuring as little as 270 micrometres in diameter. The gears are made from cast epoxy resin with aluminium. A magnet on the input shaft is driven by an external, spinning magnetic field that amplifies the torque by as much as 342 times.
Zinc battery made from crab shells
A zinc battery has been created using a weird material, chitosan, found in crab shells. The battery can be recharged at least 1000 times before biodegrading or being recycled, and could eventually store impressive amounts of power.
Strange new galaxy contains no metals
The James Webb Space Telescope has found a surprising galaxy containing almost no metals. It has far fewer heavy elements than scientists expected. The heavy elements usually found in galaxies are made inside stars like our sun, spread through space when stars die. But the galaxy, which is 30.2 billion light years or so away from our home planet, contains just 2%of the metal in our sun, making it one of the most extremely metal-poor objects ever found in space. It means the galaxy may have seen some kind of dramatic change, maybe consuming hydrogen gas from the space between galaxies. So far nobody knows if it’s normal or something unique.
Metals ‘r’ us
It’s crazy out there, but we’re still supplying metals. We’re your expert brass sheet suppliers, aluminium extrusion suppliers, carbon steel suppliers and stainless steel suppliers in the UK, and we’re here to help.
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