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Electricity Instead of Gas Light Metal Foundry at BMW Group's Landshut Plant Relies on Electric Heating Stations for Aluminum Smelter

From Johanna Erbacher

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The light metal foundry at the BMW Group plant in Landshut continues to be pioneer in sustainability. Thanks to electrically powered heating stations, the BMW Group plant manages to save around 60 tons of CO2 per heating station per year.

Following the test phase, the heating stations in the foundry are now replaced by electrically operated stations.
Following the test phase, the heating stations in the foundry are now replaced by electrically operated stations.
(Source: BMW Group)

The BMW Group plant in Landshut continues to impress in terms of sustainability: In the light metal foundry, the plant's largest production area, electric-powered heating stations for the aluminum melt have recently been in use for the first time in a pilot operation. In this way the plant is further increasing energy efficiency and reducing resource consumption. Previously, the heating stations throughout the foundry were operated with gas. Following the successful test phase, they are now to be successively replaced across the board by electrically operated heating stations - saving around 60 tons of CO2 per heating station per year.

"The light metal foundry was and is a pioneer. Our innovative manufacturing processes are sustainable and have won several awards," says Dr. Stefan Kasperowski, head of the Lower Bavarian component plant. "The fact that we are now converting the operation of our heating stations from gas to electric is both energy-efficient and economical."

The light metal foundry is the BMW Group's only production facility for light metal castings in Europe. Last year, the almost 1,600 employees of the light metal foundry at the BMW Group plant in Landshut produced around 3.1 million cast components with a total weight of 67,000 tons. The scope of production includes engine components such as cylinder heads and crankcases, components for electric drives as well as large-scale structural components for the vehicle body.

The aluminum used for the components is delivered to the BMW Group plant in Landshut partly in liquid form and partly as solid material in the form of so-called ingots - i.e., aluminum bars. The aluminum is then first brought to temperature in casting furnaces in the plant's own smelter before being cast at around 750 degrees Celsius in the foundry.

From the smelter, the aluminum is transported by forklift truck in transport ladles to the individual casting stations. To ensure that the light metal, which has a temperature of several hundred degrees, does not cool too quickly on its way to processing, the transport ladles have to be preheated to 600 to 700 degrees Celsius. Up to now, this has been done using standard industrial gas burners.

This is now to be a thing of the past: In the future, the ceramic heating rods will be heated by means of electricity so that they begin to glow - and radiate heat. The heat generated in this way is enclosed in the pan by a cover and is thus retained to 95 percent. Furthermore, there is no longer any need for extraction, which also saves energy.

The Light Metal Foundry - a Pioneer in Sustainability

The light metal foundry at the BMW Group plant in Landshut is a pioneer in sustainability. "In 2010, we were the first emission-free foundry in the world to use molding sand cores. By using inorganic binders, we were able to reduce emissions from combustion residues by 98 percent even then. Since then, we have received numerous awards. Most recently, in 2019, we were certified by the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI), an international organization of environmental and industry associations, for the sustainable use of aluminum. Since 2021, we have been using aluminum that uses electricity generated from solar energy in its production. We are pleased that we have been able to make significant contributions to reducing CO2 emissions to date," says Kasperowski.

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