Sustainable aluminium cans, moderate falls in production, cool developments
As leaders in the UK metal supply scene, we’re always fascinated by new and exciting stories about the metals we provide to our customers. This time around, as the pandemic rolls on, we’re seeing some exciting stories around low carbon alternatives and re-usable metal products. It just goes to show that positive change can happen, even when there’s little political will for change. Here’s the news.
Low-carbon aluminium’s unstoppable momentum
It’s a thrill to see Rio Tinto Plc and Anheuser-Busch InBev forming a new partnership to manufacture a new standard of sustainable aluminium tins. Apparently both companies have signed a new memorandum of understanding designed to drive work with supply chain partners to bring AB InBev products to market in low-carbon aluminium tins.
The partnership will focus on North America first. AB InBev will be using Rio Tinto’s recycled low-carbon aluminium, made using renewable hydro-power, to create much more sustainable beer cans, which come with carbon emission reductions of over 30% compared to tins made using traditional North American manufacturing techniques. And the first beer to benefit? The US brand Michelob ULTRA. Cheers!
Moderate declines, refillable bottles, aluminium prices
As trusted aluminium suppliers, UK it’s good to know that AEROBAL, the International Organization of Aluminium Aerosol Container Manufacturers, says there has only been a ‘moderate’ fall in the global production of aluminium tins, just two percent for the first 6 months of 2020. All that, and we’re in a pandemic? Well done.
Vetroplas has created a beautiful, refillable aluminium spray bottle for Neat, the makers of multi-surface cleaning products. It holds 500ml and is made in partnership with Envases, given a white base coat followed by one-colour offset printing and an over-varnish.
US aluminium prices in the transport, construction and packaging sector are starting to slide down as a result of market expectations, with exemptions expected for producers in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Forget Sheffield. Stainless steel actually dates back to ancient Persia
We can’t be the only stainless steel suppliers in the UK to be inspired by the next story. It looks like chromium steel, the alloy we tend to call tool steel today, has very little to do with Sheffield and everything to do with ancient Persia. And that makes the technology almost 1000 years older than anyone suspected.
UCL researchers made the discovery, recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The first hints of something new and exciting were found in several medieval Persian manuscripts, which then led to a mysterious archaeological site in south Iran called Chahak.
As the lead author of the research, Dr. Rahil Alipour, says, “This research not only delivers the earliest known evidence for the production of chromium steel dating back as early as the 11th century CE, but also provides a chemical tracer that could aid the identification of crucible steel artefacts in museums or archaeological collections back to their origin in Chahak, or the Chahak tradition.”
Chahak itself is widely written about, as can be seen in documents dating back to the 12th to 19th centuries. Once a world-renowned steel production centre, it’s the only archaeological site in Iran – so far – to reveal evidence of steel making in a crucible. Its exact location is still a mystery, though, since there are many villages in Iran called Chahak.
The team radio-carbon dated some pieces of charcoal from smithing slag, which dated back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Scanning Electron Microscopy identified the remains of the ore mineral chromite, a vital additive to the stainless steel-making process. The team hopes to date and provenance more early crucible steel objects with this unique chromium steel signature.
The limited edition Varius pen
The famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has worked with the Swiss art materials company Caran D’ache to create a stunning new limited edition pen, the Varius. It’s being marketed as a ‘rare object’ that combines a cool, calm Japanese aesthetic with the craftsmanship of Caran D’ache.
The Varius is made using a feast of complex interlocking of pieces of Hinoki Cypress wood, which contrasts with the pen’s silver rhodium plated steel elements. It comes in its own wood veneer case and is available as a biro, rollerball, or fountain pen.
Building many, many bridges
Metalloinvest’s Ural Steel says it has shipped more than 715,500 tonnes of steel over the past five years alone, used mainly to construct bridges. 2019-2020 alone saw the plant supply metal for the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge, a 1km long bridge over the Pur river in Yamal, a mountain bridge on the Yenisey river, one over Amur, another over the Belaya river, and bridges over the Amgun, Zeya, Om, Tuloma, Neman, Bolshaya Salym, Uda, and Kyzyl bridges, plus the ongoing Samara bridge and those that cross the Ob and Sheksna rivers.
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