ABB Metallurgy lifecycle analysis – working towards climate-smart products in metals

ABB's electromagnetic stirrer ArcSave saves roughly six times more carbon dioxide than it generates during its lifetime. Thanks to a lifecycle analysis for the stirrer, ABB Metallurgy and their customers in steel manufacturing can take further steps towards a reduced climate footprint. Now ABB is writing the next chapter in the journey towards a sustainable future.

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For over 80 years, ABB's electromagnetic stirring and braking devices have contributed to improved resource efficiency in steel production, by reducing energy consumption in primary metals processes. To accelerate the journey towards a sustainable future, further steps are required, starting with systematic progress to reduce the stirrer's climate footprint.

Lifecycle analysis is a comprehensive task and employees from all of ABB Metallurgy’s departments have contributed data. "An analysis like this is only possible when there is collaboration across functions, where employees contribute with data, their competence and experience," says Alice Granehed, project manager, who worked together with Emil Blomqvist, Mechanical Design Engineer, and Thom Holmberg, Supply Chain Manager, to conduct the lifecycle analysis.

After extensive data collection, ABB Metallurgy worked in close collaboration with ABB Corporate Research to carry out a lifecycle analysis for their flagship ArcSave product. The stirrer's environmental impact has been evaluated for all stages of its product lifecycle; from raw materials through the production process and the customer's user phase to recycling or end-of-life.

“Lifecycle analysis is a really valuable starting point. For the first time, we have comparable values and can see which of the lifecycle phases drive emissions. It gives us actionable insights that we can use to improve, starting with the areas that have the biggest impact,” says Alice Granehed, project manager for implementing the life cycle analysis at ABB Metallurgy.

Collaboration is key

ABB's electromagnetic stirrers streamline resource efficiency, improve quality and productivity in energy-intensive steel and aluminum plants. The fact that the stirrer has a long life, often longer than 25 years, is really positive, but also means that it contributes to emissions for just as long. Since 95 percent of ABB Metallurgy's customers are located globally, ArcSave's CO2 emissions are mainly derived from a fossil-based electricity mix during the user phase.

“Every emissions reduction counts in the transition to a low carbon society. Therefore, we cannot simplify by comparing the large emissions generated during the user phase with the significantly smaller emissions from the production phase. At ABB we must take responsibility and influence all parts within our control. Besides a more efficient product, this includes the production process, materials and suppliers,” says Alice Granehed.

"ABB's sustainability agenda for 2030 is ambitious. The challenge – to reduce emissions in line with the targets – requires every reduction in CO2 footprint that we can make,” says Alice Granehed.

The ArcSave electromagnetic stirrer consists of 95 percent steel and copper. Earlier this year, ABB entered into a strategic collaboration with Boliden to use recycled copper with a lower carbon footprint in their water-cooled stirrers. This type of collaboration has a key role to play in reducing environmental impact.

“We have strong relationships with our suppliers and are working together to investigate new approaches. ABB Metallurgydoes not, for example,  buy steel directly from the steel mill, but our suppliers do, therefore, we need to influence them to choose alternatives with lower emissions and aim for completely fossil free steel in the future,” says Thom Holmberg, Supply Chain Manager at ABB Metallurgy.

First with premium product

Large companies' pursuit of sustainable supply chains and increased transparency in environmental reporting, including growing demand for lifecycle analyses, are among global market trends and sustainability drivers. For ABB Metallurgy, it is important to not only keep up with industry development, but also to strive to be one step ahead.

“The world is changing and our ambition is to be the first on the market to offer a greener premium product for electromagnetic stirring. We have started the work of lowering ArcSave's carbon footprint, and we will make the same journey with all our products,” says Thom Holmberg.

"Working towards reducing ArcSave's carbon footprint has been really inspiring. It gives a new dimension to our work and is a step in the right direction," says Thom Holmberg.

Fact box: How ABB enables a low-carbon society

ABB's sustainability strategy 2030 aims to enable a low carbon society. For example, ABB works to reduce emissions in the supply chain and supports customers in reducing CO2e emissions. Preserving resources is central and a circularity framework lays the foundation for all work with sustainability with regard to design, purchasing, production, user phase and end-of-life.

Fact box: Electromagnetic stirrers

The ABB ArcSave® electromagnetic stirrer (EMS) has been used since 1939 on electric arc furnaces for melting ore and metal at high temperatures. The technology is applied to a number of applications for primary manufacturing processes within the metals industry, including ladle and aluminium furnaces and continuous casting. It improves quality, productivity and reduces costs and energy consumption in energy-intensive steel and aluminium plants.

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