“This company invented a better soda can. Why isn’t anybody buying?” – Grist, 30 October 2014

Less than a year after introducing the evercan, Novelis broke ground on a new multimillion dollar plant in Germany to manufacture the cans, which are made of 90 percent recycled aluminum. Novelis thought the evercan was a win-win for the company: the cans are cheaper to produce and more sustainable for the environment, since far less energy is used to produce recycled aluminum than virgin aluminum, a minimum of five percent.

With such advantages, it seems that the large beverage companies — Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, MillerCoors, etc. — would be chomping at the bit to get their hands on the evercan; however, these companies aren’t buying. The only company currently using the evercan is Georgia-based micro-brewer Red Hare Brewing Co. What’s even more odd is that Novelis’ aluminum supply is being purchased in spades by top automobile companies Ford and GM for their new lines of all-aluminum body cars.

But it seems that the beverage industry’s preferences are elsewhere. Besides the beverage companies’ hesitance to rely on one aluminum supplier, many of the companies, such as Coca-Cola, prefer PET plastic bottles to cans. Coca-Cola uses a bottle called a “plantbottle,” which is a PET bottle produced from sugar cane and sugar cane waste. The plantbottle makes up 60 percent of Coca-Cola’s worldwide sales. Moreover, the plantbottle is also resealable, which is a bonus for consumers.

Environmentally undesirable land filling, for obvious reasons, is a total waste of energy and valuable raw materials. Exporting lower value scrap is another way to export energy and valuable elements embedded in post-consumer aluminum products, only to come back to the US as more value added semi and fully finished products. This would adversely affect US trade balance.

Furthermore, economic incentives and societal consumer awareness supported by numerous newer scrap sorting technologies under development should limit land filling of scrap in US and reduce scrap export to countries like China.

If one beverage company vouches for the evercan, then perhaps other companies would follow suit. But more than that, the industries directly involved in recycling — aluminum, beverage, and waste — need to bolster their recycling actions so that Novelis has more material to work with.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 2, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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The ARPA-E 2014 Energy Innovation Summit

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 3.08.09 PMThe ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit was held last week, February 24-26, in Washington DC. The goal of the summit was to create a space where thought leaders—from academia, business and government—can discuss innovative solutions to current energy issues. Phinix had a booth at the summit.

Phinix was recently awarded a contract by ARPA-E for Phinix’s project RE-12. RE-12 aims to provide a cleaner, more sustainable manufacturing solution for recovering magnesium and aluminum-magnesium alloys.

Current extraction and recovery processes for magnesium alloys are expensive and environmentally unfriendly. Premium and high demand applications of these processes—in areas like aluminum beverage cans, automotive and marine applications, and titanium manufacturing—all require high-purity alloys to manufacture their various components. Consequently, the majority of these alloys are produced from pure, expensive, energy-intensive primary aluminum and magnesium, instead of recycling materials.

Phinix is looking for partners and investors to scale up and commercialize the process.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 28, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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“Aluminum Can Continues Leadership in Sustainable Packaging as Most Recycled Beverage Container” – PR Newsire, 24 October 2013

The aluminum industry hopes that our recycling rate will reach 75% by 2015, and we are well on our way. According to a report by the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the rate of recycling for used beverage cans (UBCs) in the US continued to increase in 2012 to 67%, the highest recycling rate since the 1990s and the second highest since 1972.

According to the report, in 2012, the aluminum can industry was able to recycle almost 62 billion domestic and imported cans, and ship 92 billion cans across the US. This also means the US saved energy, equivalent to 19 million barrels of crude oil, enough gas to run 1.7 millions cars for one year. UBCs are great for both the economy and environment because they can be recycled a limitless number of times — a UBC can be back in the store in as few as 60 days.

Our recycling success can be attributed to the importation of cans to the US, from countries like Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Poland, etc. —  importing cans helps us to bulk up our recycling stream. A lot of money can be made from recycling UBC; it’s become a very attractive enterprise for recycling companies.

Recycling aluminum uses far less energy — 5% — than creating primary aluminum. Still, thousands of cans, amounting to $900 million, are wasted by going to the landfill, affecting our economic and environmental prosperity. The aluminum industry promotes recycling by supporting the Curbside Value Partnership, which helps to bolster participation in curbside recycling programs in the US.

A lot of work has already been done to achieve this 68% recycling rate , more dedicated work  still needs to be done to achieve the self-imposed goal of 75% recycling rate and still lot more to be done to achieve  world champion on Brazil’s  rate of 98%.

A lot of hard work is still to come, and with a lot more rewards — economic, environmental and most importantly, a favorable public opinion. We should be looking for sustainable packaging among the many alternatives.

Useful Related Links:
Phinix Blog
Brazil Remains Aluminum Can Recycling Champion
Aluminium Circle
Brazil remains leader in aluminum can recycling
Novelis hopes to raise US recycling rates with its ‘evercan’ Project

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 11, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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Phinix, LLC Awarded DOE Funding for Recycling Project

Phinix has been awarded funding by the Department of Energy‘s agency Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for its recycling project, “Electrochemical Extraction of High Quality Magnesium from Scrap”.

With this funding, Phinix will develop a new electrochemical cell technology that can recover high-quality magnesium from aluminum magnesium scrap. This technology could lower costs, energy inputs, and emissions from magnesium production, expanding its use in transportation industries. By recovering and reusing aluminum-magnesium scrap, Phinix’s technology could reduce the need for manufacturing new, expensive primary metals, while developing a sustainable and low-cost advanced manufacturing process.

Kentucky — Phinix’s homestate — Congressman Andy Barr congratulated the company in a press release sent out on October 9th:

Based on the strength of its application, Phinix will receive over $600,000 for the research and development of an electrochemical process to extract high-quality magnesium from scrap metal for reuse in manufacturing, as part of ARPA-E’s brand new METALS program.

ARPA-E is a Department of Energy agency charged with identifying and supporting cutting edge technologies to provide clean, affordable energy for American families and businesses. It is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which, among other breakthroughs, developed the basis for the modern Internet. ARPA-E seeks to develop similarly valuable innovations within the energy sector by leveraging the power of public-private partnerships.

Phinix, LLC was founded in September 2008 in Lexington by Dr. Subodh Das, following an illustrious academic and professional career. Dr. Das served for four years as an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky, during which time he founded UK’s Center for Aluminum Technology. Phinix provides concept development and consulting services in the areas of aluminum production, metal recycling, energy efficiency and conservation, and carbon management.

“I congratulate Phinix, LLC as it is announced that the company’s innovative metal recycling project will receive funding from ARPA-E following a competitive review process,” said Congressman Andy Barr. “Phinix’s presence in Lexington, established following Dr. Subodh Das’s tenure at the University of Kentucky, demonstrates the important role of the Commonwealth’s university system in providing an educated workforce for the industries of the future. The University of Kentucky is an important component of what makes the environment in central Kentucky ideal for attracting the entrepreneurs and high-tech startups, such as Phinix, which are poised to revolutionize our economy and create highly skilled manufacturing jobs.”

See ARPA-E’s announcement of allocating $66 million for transformational energy technologies, and a complete list of the projects.

October 9, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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