New Alcoa casthouse up and running

US company Alcoa has finalised a $21 million expansion of the Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products casthouse in Barberton, Ohio. The plant is supposed to cut in half the total amount of energy used to recycle aluminum for forged wheels, reducing greenhouse gases and increasing the overall efficiency and sustainability of the company’s manufacturing process.

The recycling facility, the first of its kind in North America, produces wheels from re-melted and scrap aluminum. Construction of the 50,000-square-foot facility began in July 2011. It is now up and running at full capacity and has created more than 30 full-time jobs, according to Tim Myers, President of Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products.

One-hundred million pounds of recycled scrap aluminum is enough to make two million new Alcoa forged aluminum wheels. The casthouse takes chips and solids from an existing Alcoa wheel machining plant on the same campus in Barberton, as well as from Alcoa’s Cleveland forging plant, and recycles them into aluminum billets. The billets are then shipped to other wheel-processing facilities to forge into aluminum wheels.

The casthouse is expected to significantly reduce energy use through a combination of process improvements and reduced transportation needs. The facility is located on the campus of an existing production facility, which has led to dramatic reductions in transportation needs, leading to an approximately 90 percent cut in transportation-related energy use, Alcoa said.

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