Pioneering research provides significant environmental benefits in smelting industry

After almost 20 years of research and development, Elkem Salten has reduced NOx emissions from one of the plant's furnaces by 40% - the equivalent of 150,000 diesel cars. Elkem now plans to use the same technology to reduce emissions in the company's other silicon smelting furnaces.

Elkem Salten has reduced NOx emissions from one of its furnaces by 40% - the equivalent of 150,000 diesel cars.

The reduction in NOx came as a result of a modification of a furnace at Elkem Salten in Sørfold, Norway during the spring of 2013.  The upgraded furnace started again in July 2013. The measurement results from the new furnace are now ready. They show that emissions have been reduced by 40 %. Annually, this represents a reduction of 387 metric tons, the equivalent of 150,000 diesel cars.

“This is really great for the environment, Elkem and the industry. A reduction in NOx of 40% is the result of 18 years of meticulous work and research into NOx emissions from smelting furnaces by the Norwegian Ferroalloy Producers Research Association. With the experience from the R&D work and the results from the new furnace we now have a good basis to reduce emissions from other silicon smelting furnaces in Elkem,” says Plant Director of Elkem Salten, Arve Ulriksen.

Significant reduction

Elkem Salten has received NOK 54 million in financial support from the NOx Fund. Ulriksen says that the support from the fund has been the catalyst that ensured the completion of the project. The NOx Fund has already undertaken to support Elkem with a further NOK 180 million for the implementation of equivalent technology in other furnaces at Salten and at Elkem's smelting plants at Bremanger and Bjølvefossen.

“It's gratifying that Elkem has managed to both develop and implement an extremely successful reduction of emissions in in the first furnace at the Salten Plant,” says Geir Høibye, Specialist Adviser at the NOx Fund.

“A lot of expertise and skilful execution has been necessary in order to pull it off. When all the furnaces have been modified, this will be among the most significant reductions in emissions implemented by onshore industry in Norway.”

Use of new knowledge

NOx emissions from the new furnace at Elkem Salten have been greatly reduced through the use of new knowledge. Key elements of the modifications are a new hood design and continuous addition of raw materials to the furnace. The effects of the modification were modelled at SINTEF/NTNU based on the results from pilot tests and computer simulations of flow patterns and the temperature of the top of the furnace/hood. There has therefore been a lot of excitement in anticipation of the measurement results following the start-up of the new furnace. 

Elkem's technological team in Trondheim, led by Halvard Tveit, has in collaboration with SINTEF/NTNU developed a basic understanding of the formation of NOx at the top of furnaces.  In addition to doctoral work conducted by Elkem's Nils Eivind Kamfjord, an interdisciplinary team with representatives from the plants and Elkem's research unit, Elkem Technology, can take a lot of credit for the results achieved. Patient R&D efforts through several projects supports by the Norwegian Research Council have now delivered results.

Elkem shares its results with the world. In this way other silicon smelting plants around the world will be able to benefit from the results, which will provide significant environmental benefits.

For further information, please contact:

Arve Ulriken, Plant Director Elkem Salten, Tel. +47 95 03 03 19

Geir Høibye, Specialist Adviser at The Business Sector's NOx Fund, Tel. +47 93 06 25 30 


  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are exhaust gases that cause acid rain and increased concentrations of ground-level ozone. Emissions can be harmful to ecosystems and vegetation. In addition they cause harm to human health.
  • The goal for the Business Sector's NOx Fund is to reduce NOx emissions in Norway by 34,000 metric tons over the next 10 years. 15 cooperating business organisations are the founders of the fund.
  • Under the Gothenburg Protocol, Norway is committed to reducing NOx emissions to 156,000 metric tons per year. In 2012, Norway's NOx emissions totalled 166,000 metric tons.
  • The transportation section accounts for 58 per cent of Norway's collective emissions, while industry accounts for 11 percent of all Norwegian emissions.
  • Elkem accounts for about three per cent of Norway's total emissions


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