HAPPY FACES: The girls enjoyed themselves at our aluminium plant in Hamburg. Copyright NAT, Claudia Höhne
The visit was not just an average school day: The schedule included aluminium production, modern machinery, safety demonstrations – and recycling.
Surrounded by mountains of old, shiny and sparkly aluminium, the girls investigated the used scrap with great curiosity.
Their visit to Hamburg is part of a program called mint:pink – a program for young girls who are passionate about science and technology.
Mint: pink is an abbreviation for Mathematics, Computer science (IT), Natural sciences and Technology.
The girls got a guided tour around the Hamburg plant, to learn more about how aluminium is made, and how it’s recycled.
Is it possible to reuse aluminium?
As they walked around studying the scrap yard, one of the girls asked skeptically
“How is it possible to reuse aluminium in this condition?”
“I’ll show you”, their instructor replied with an enthusiastic voice.
To get the answer, the girls were brought to the next station, which is the cast house.
Read more about recycling: We will be able to remelt 3.3 billion aluminium cans a year with new recycling line
Well equipped with all the safety gear necessary, and looking like foundrymen by themselves, they entered a hot world where Michael Rösner-Kuhn, Head of Product Technology in Hamburg, explained to them how the 40.000 tons of used aluminum the plant receives in a year is remelted and casted.
They learned that cans were prohibited in the factory because of the potential danger that can occur. If a can with a remain of any liquid somehow enters an oven, the immediate effect would be an explosion.
“Therefore safety first – always,” adds Michael – and the girls nod intrigued.
Being so close to the liquid aluminium, the girls really started to get a touch of what it is all about.
500 degrees Celsius
The next station was the hot mill.
“500 degrees Celsius: This is the temperature of the preheating oven before the ingots get rolled,” the application engineer Timo Weihberger explained.
The power of the machine is massive, as it can potentially induce a maximum pressure of 4000t to the aluminium.
“While at the moment 1.200t are subjected to the strip,” Timo said.
The girls were impressed and a bit incredulous when they saw how fast the strip became longer and longer, pass by pass.
Overwhelmed with fascination
Once the tour was over, the girls went into a room where they could enjoy a cold drink. Relieved to step out of the heavy shoes, to lift the helmets off, and to take remove the non-inflammable trousers and jackets.
After a long day filled with new impressions, lots of data and figures, starting from the composition of the earth up to the “young” success story of aluminium, the girls left with an important lesson learned: Heavy industry is highly intensive, strenuous, but the fascination overwhelms.
“A normal school day cannot keep up with these impressions,” said Marla and her colleague Sophia added: “It was totally remarkable”.