Chemicals & Petrochemicals, News

Elkem Paraguay reaches 100 per cent biocarbon milestone

Biocarbon in the form of charcoal and woodchips are sustainable carbon sources replacing fossil coal.
For the first time one of Elkem’s furnaces has produced ferrosilicon based on 100 per cent sustainable biocarbon.

Elkem’s long term goal is to achieve carbon-neutral metal production. Using CO₂ neutral charcoal instead of fossil coal as a reduction agent in the production of silicon and ferrosilicon is a key part of Elkem’s sustainable production strategy.

Elkem’s Limpio plant in Paraguay opened in August 2018 with a clear vision: Focusing on sustainable raw material and the future of ferrosilicon production with neutral emissions of CO₂. Part of this vision was reached in March 2019, when 100 per cent charcoal was used as a reductant for the furnace, in addition to eucalyptus chips to allow for proper porosity to the charge. The plant gets is electricity from the hydroelectric power from the Itaipu powerplant, making this production 100 per cent renewable. The quartz, another important raw material, is extracted and processed locally, giving low logistics CO₂ emissions.

Biocarbon in the form of charcoal and woodchips are sustainable carbon sources replacing fossil coal. Fossil coal is widely used as a reductant in production of silicon and ferrosilicon. Through extensive research and development Elkem has shown that replacing fossil coal with charcoal will not damage the silicon or ferrosilicon product, and can therefore replace fossil coal.

– The Limpio plant is a pioneer plant in Elkem and for our industry. Elkem’s long term goal is to achieve carbon neutral metal production, and this milestone is of great inspiration for reaching this goal for Elkem and our industry. Sustainable production throughout our value chain will strengthen our competitive advantage. Our goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050, and we are in-line with the milestones we have defined to reach our Limpio plant proving this concept, says Helge Aasen, CEO of Elkem.

Dedicated and focused work from the employees at Elkem Limpio resolved in meeting the ambitious target ahead of time.

– Our efforts to achieve this milestone have been motivated by the corporate strategy of being “greener”, but also by the driving local mindset towards a more sustainable operation. We are also very proud of achieving this milestone one month earlier than originally planned, states Osvaldo Almeida, plant manager of Elkem Limpio Paraguay.

To replace fossil coal with biocarbon, Elkem needs a stable supply of biocarbon at competitive prices. Elkem sources biocarbon from plantations that adhere to our strict environmental and social standards. Suppliers must ensure that timber comes from certified, sustainable sources and that the working conditions in the production process are acceptable and comply with human rights.