Spotted: Design studio Nebbia Works has created an installation for this year’s London Design Week that highlights the sustainable potential of aluminium. The installation at the V&A Museum consists of a self-supporting pavilion crafted from 27 low-carbon aluminium sheets.
To create the pavilion, the designers fused the sheets together to create the impression of one continuous piece. The pavilion’s legs were cut using a water jet, folded out using a gantry crane and shaped by rolling them around a large tube. The material was left natural, and was buffed and polished by hand to give it an organic quality.
En+ Group manufactured the aluminium used in the project. They claim the material is the, “lowest carbon aluminium the world has ever produced”. Each tonne of aluminium resulted in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of just 0.01 tonnes. This is far below the four-tonne threshold that is generally used to define low-carbon aluminium.
To eliminate process emissions from smelting – caused by the erosion of carbon anodes – En+ use inert anodes made from a ceramic alloy. According to En+ communications director Dawn James, “These inert anodes do not erode during the process, so you get pure oxygen out of the top and pure aluminium out of the bottom of the smelter. For us, the smelting process accounts for 25 per cent of emissions, which we will be saving with inert anodes. So, there are virtually no emissions.”
Aluminium production currently accounts for two per cent of all global emissions. This is not surprising considering how many uses there are for the lightweight material. At Springwise, we have seen a number of these innovations using aluminium, including a chain mail fabric made from 3D printed aluminium, and a single-person electric plane made from aluminium and carbon fibre.
Written By: Lisa Magloff