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Motors using ‘green’ copper will cut CO2 emissions by 200kg

03 January, 2023

ABB has formed a strategic co-operation with Boliden, a Swedish mining and smelting company, to use low-carbon footprint copper in high-efficiency electric motors. The aim is to cut greenhouse gas emissions while driving the transition to a more circular economy.

Copper is vital for industrial electrical equipment, but its production is energy-intensive. Boliden has developed low-carbon copper that is mined using fossil-free energy. It is also producing copper using raw materials derived from recycled products.

The carbon footprint of products using “green’ copper is 65% lower than the industry average. A typical 75kW motor weighing 650kg  includes around 80kg of copper. Using low-carbon-footprint copper will save about 200kg of CO2 emissions for each motor.

ABB has a strategic goal of cutting the environmental impact of raw materials in its products by replacing them with lower carbon alternatives. As well as using recycled copper, the company is increasing its use of recycled electrical steel and aluminium.

ABB is already designing its motors to be up to 98% recyclable, with the remaining 2% capable of being incinerated to produce heat. It estimates that recycling copper, aluminium and steel can achieve energy savings of 75–95% compared to virgin production of these materials.

Starting this year, ABB will buy low-carbon and recycled copper from Boliden for use in its IE5 “ultra-premium” efficiency synchronous reluctance (SynRM) motors, as well as e-mobility motors made in Europe. ABB will also help Boliden to identify inefficient low-voltage motors in its plants, which can then be replaced with high-efficiency machines and the old motors recycled to provide raw materials for Boliden’s low-carbon-footprint copper.

ABB has also placed an order for Boliden’s certified recycled copper which will be turned into hollow-conductor wires for use in electromagnetic stirrers used to manufacture steel and aluminium. Each stirrer needs up to 2,700kg of copper, saving up to 6,700kg of CO2 per stirrer.

ABB will use Bolliden’s recycled and low-carbon copper to produce synchronous reluctance and e-mobility motors

“As a part of ABB's 2030 sustainability strategy, our target is for 80% of our products and solutions to be covered by a circularity approach,” explains Ola Norén, ABB’s head of metallurgy products for process industries. “The work with Boliden is an important step towards this goal. All of our metallurgy products will use recycled hollow copper conductors from 2023.”

“We want to enable a more sustainable and resource-efficient future, and with this collaboration our customers can not only decarbonise by upgrading to energy-efficient motors, but will also be able to install ABB technology that has an improved environmental footprint thanks to Boliden’s copper,” adds Ulf Hellstrom, managing director of ABB Motion in Sweden. “This is an excellent example of the circular economy in practice.”

ABB:  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

Bolliden:  LinkedIn

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