Aluminum manufacturer Rusal America has announced that it will be joining the first-of-its-kind 3D printing campus, Neighborhood 91, located at Pittsburgh International Airport’s (PIT). The site is meant to represent a new type of manufacturing ecosystem in which multiple partners co-locate to serve one another and their markets at large.
Rusal, the second largest aluminum producer in the world, will be establishing Rusal America’s new aluminum AM powders business at Neighborhood 91. Rusal is a subsidiary of En+ Group, an Anglo-Russian energy and metals company that is the world’s largest privately held hydropower generator. With 61,000 employees, Rusal operates in 13 countries across five continents, producing 6.2 percent of the world’s primary aluminum. Its U.S. division, Rusal America, primarily services the aerospace and automotive industries.
Rusal America Aluminum powder. (Image courtesy of Rusal America.)
The combination of En+’s hydropower with Rusal’s aluminum production has enabled the company to claim that its ALLOW brand of aluminum is “low-carbon”, as its smelters are powered largely by hydropower. En+ aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout its business by 35 percent by 2030, 10 percent less than required global GHG cuts outlined by the United Nations. By 2050, En+ will attempt to reach net zero, as recommended by the UN, though “net” zero may have its own fine print that poses problems for climate stability.
“En+ Group is the world leader in low-carbon aluminum through our ALLOW brand,” said C. Brian Hesse, President and CEO of Rusal America. “By enabling sustainable operations, Neighborhood 91 is an ideal location from which to expand our presence in the AM powders market without compromising on our core sustainability principles. We remain committed to enabling our customers to play a vital role in the sustainability value chain and to playing an active role in the innovation ecosystem at Neighborhood 91 in the years ahead.”
Now, Rusal America will working alongside other residents of Neighborhood 91 as Wabtec, Arencibia, and the University of Pittsburgh. While Wabtec will be using 3D printing for its rail products, Arencibia will be able to recycle and provide argon gas for metal 3D printing. It’s no doubt, then, that aluminum may become the metal of choice in this workflow. They can then rely on the local airport as a hub for transporting goods to and from the area.
Altogether, Neighborhood 91 touts “co-location of capital resources”, “on-site recycling of inert gases”, “an efficient and reliable microgrid”, and “reduced transportation emissions.” Though it may not have developed a fully circular economy, it is a good step toward such an ideal. Given the climate needs mentioned above, as well as the strain placed on natural resources, one hopes that Neighborhood 91 sets a precedent for industrial projects going forward.