With support from Innovation Norway, the industrial company Hycast hopes to deliver elements to a rapidly growing electric car industry now that they are collaborating with Chinese developers.
“The support from Innovation Norway has had a triggering effect”, says Arild Håkonsen, Head of Technology Management at Hycast.
Hycastis located inSunndal in MøreogRomsdal, and is a world leader within its field of expertise.
The company is a subsidiary of Hydro Aluminium, and their main task is to manage and secure Hydro’s leading position in aluminium smelting and casting technology.
“Hycast is an important development partner for Hydro and currently sells casting technology to the aluminium industry around the world, and is otherwise an important export company in Møreog Romsdal”, says Lars Sandnes of Innovation Norway Møreog Romsdal.
The industrial company is now collaborating with Chinese researchers on the development of advanced aluminium technology. A collaboration consisting of academia and a grouping of casting companies which, among other things, targets the Chinese automotive industry.
The Sunndal-based company is responsible for the design and development of the technology, and is assisted by local industry in the production of the equipment. They sell the casting technology to a global market of aluminium producers. They are also involved in an extensive aftermarket supplying parts and support.
“The aim of the project is to develop technology to cast the Alu-7000 alloy, which is currently produced in just two aluminium plants in the world, and which is mainly used in the aviation and space industries. We see the automotive industry, especially electric cars, as a new market niche for the alloy, where weight reduction is important”, says Sandnes.
The sustainability element lies in the fact that the automotive industry can replace components that are currently produced from steel with aluminium, thereby reducing weight, fuel consumption and environmental emissions.
Contributing to the green shift
Hycast is among the best in the world in what they do, and their development and production will contribute to the green shift as they ensure that aluminium replaces steel to a greater extent than is currently the case in various areas of application.
“They will contribute to the ‘green shift’ by ensuring that aluminium replaces steel to a greater extent than is currently the case, which Innovation Norway considers important”, says Sandnes.
As part of a collaborative project in China, Innovation Norway has provided support to Hycast as one of eight projects. In 2019, they received support through the Environmental Technology Scheme from Innovation Norway Møreog Romsdal.
“This is a collaborative project in which we are trying to develop new casting technology for the production of hard aluminium alloys for use in cars”, says Håkonsen, Head of Technology Management.
Everything is being developed in Sunndal
Hycast equips aluminium casting plants with everything that is needed for what we call casting lines. This includes cleaning the metal to casthouse technology for finished products.
“All the technology the company sells has been developed in Sunndal, both smelting equipment and casting equipment”, says Håkonsen, who is proud that they are the leading expertise environment regarding casting technology, which includes a research centre and Europe’s largest foundry, all located at Sunndalsøra.
Hycast sells much of its casting technology to Hydro, but by far the largest market for the technology company is located in China. Following close behind is Europe, the Middle East, North America and the United States. It has been just over ten years since the adventure in China began, and the world’s largest country has now become their largest market by far. Focus is now turning towards India in the hope that a new international market needs technology from the Sunndal-based company.
Pilot project funding
Hycast has also received support from Innovation Norway for a pilot project: ‘Automated cleaning of casting vacuum channels’.
“This project looks at the possibilities of automating work that is currently carried out manually, and where the operators are exposed to molten metal and heat radiation. Both of the mentioned projects are ongoing and Innovation Norway’s support has had a triggering effect”, says Håkonsen.