A $21 million expansion to the Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products cast house in Barberton, OH, that is expected to cut in half the amount of energy used to recycle aluminum for forged wheels.

There will also be a reduction in greenhouse gases and increased overall efficiency and sustainability of the manufacturing process, Alcoa said.

The recycling facility is the first of its kind in North America, Alcoa noted, and uses advanced technology to produce wheels from re-melted and scrap aluminum.  Construction of the 50,000-sq.-ft. facility began in July 2011.  It is now up and running at full capacity and has created more than 30 full-time jobs. 

“Alcoa’s cast house brings ‘green’ technology and new manufacturing jobs to Northeast Ohio,” said Tim Myers, president, Alcoa Wheel and Transportation Products. “Sustainability is integrated into Alcoa’s business strategy, and this facility allows us to take our recycling practices to a new level, recycling 100 million lbs. of scrap aluminum each year in a more energy efficient way.”

One hundred million lbs. of recycled scrap aluminum is enough to make two million new Alcoa forged aluminum wheels.

The cast house 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 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% cut in transportation-related energy use.

“This new, more energy-efficient facility makes our 100 percent recyclable aluminum wheels even more environmentally friendly,” said Kevin Anton, Alcoa’s chief sustainability officer.  “This project is also part of the Dept. of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, through which we will share best practices – such as linking energy goals to compensation – to help other companies reduce their industrial energy intensity.” 

The Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge is a program that helps sustainable companies identify innovative energy efficient solutions for their buildings and plants. As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, Alcoa works with the Energy Department to implement energy savings practices that reduce energy waste and save money.  As part of this program, Alcoa also shares facility-level energy use data and successful strategies with other Better Buildings Challenge partners and U.S. businesses and organizations.