Alcoa's Tennessee Operations has existed in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains for almost 100 years.
Located 15 miles south of Knoxville, Tennessee Operations occupies 1600 acres, with 125 under roof and produces enough aluminum sheet through its Continuous Cold Mill every minute to produce 95,000 cans.
Primary aluminum made from raw materials is produced in the smelter. At full capacity, the Smelter's two potlines can produce more than 1.3 million pounds of molten metal each day. Smelting and its support divisions are part of the Primary Metals Division.
Used beverage cans collected from around the country are recycled in Tennessee Operations' Can Reclamation process. Can Rec remelts enough used beverage cans each year to make billions of new cans. Recycling aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy it takes to make new aluminum from raw materials. Recycled cans return to store shelves as new products in as little as 60 days.
The Cycle of Can Recycling
Aluminum is Infinitely Recyclable
The History of Can Recycling
Molten metal that is produced in Tennessee's Smelter and Can Reclamation facility is used to produce high-quality aluminum can sheet. The metal is first cast into ingots, that can be up to 25 feet long and weigh 44,000 pounds.
The ingots are first sent through a Scalper, where the surface of the metal is shaved to remove impurities in the metal. They are then sent through a series of three rolling mills on the Hot Line. The Hot Line transforms the 21" thick ingot into a 3,000 foot long, 1/8" thick coil in about seven minutes.
Tennessee's Continuous Cold Mill (CCM) is the most modern rolling facility in the world. Coils of aluminum are run through the CCM at speeds up to 60 miles per hour to reduce the metal to its final gauge, only a few thousandths of an inch thick. Enough sheet goes through the mill to produce 95,000 cans every minute.
Finally, the coils are trimmed on high speed slitting equipment, packaged and shipped to beverage can makers throughout the world. Some of Tennessee Operations' customers include Anheuser-Busch, American National Can, and Crown Cork Seal.
View an image illustrating the process involved in producing molten metal and aluminum sheet.
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