International ALUMINIUM Journal

Topics in issue 1-2/2020

Date of publication: 3 February 2020

Advert deadline: 20 January 2020

Special: The aluminium smelting industry in the run-up to TMS 2020

The primary aluminium industry and technol­ogy partners of anode plants, aluminium smelters and smelter cast­houses report on their business, new technologies and modern equipment. We will also report on technical solutions for the secondary smelting industry. Topics in our January / February double issue include:


N-2 investment saved Potline 4 at Aluminium Bahrain

Photo: ABB

In the past, many smelters experienced power conversion system incidents that led to damage to their potrooms, or worse, total shutdown of the potline. This ended with very high financial losses and insurance claims. To protect such large financial assets, it is essential that critical equipment and systems are installed in an N-2 configuration to ensure that full operation is still possible with two subsystems out of operation. Moreover, N-2 installation of rectiformers will extend their lifetime, as they will be run with reduced load during normal operation. When the Alba smelter suffered a rare 132 kV cable failure on two rectiformers on Potline 4 in February 2019, the investment in N-2 configuration saved the company from a potline freeze and prevented hundreds of million dollars in damages.


Intelligent data collection for enhanced production, quality and customer satisfaction

In May 2019 the French company Sermas Industrie was acquired by Stas Inc.. Sermas is a leading manufacturer of complete sawing solutions, machines for sawing cast or rolled aluminium plates, and anode preparation equipment, and is based near Grenoble in France. Stas is a world leading supplier of high-tech, robust process equipment for the carbon, electrolysis and casthouse sector for the aluminium industry globally. The article gives an overview of a recent product development initiated by Sermas with its solution ‘Sermalogix’ and by Stas with ‘Staslogix’. These solutions were designed a few years ago by a team of engineers and programmers to help customers better understand their equipment’s precise behaviour, and to gather strategic data that can be later used to adapt, and perfect production standards, and thus to reach higher efficiency gains.


When safety and production rate work together

Photo: Mecfor

Managing casthouse operation is not a simple task; many aspects must be taken into consideration. Nowadays, everyone wants optimized processes, increased safety and greater production rate. What if you could safely charge 42 tonnes of aluminium into your furnace in less than 20 minutes, using a single machine, and while benefiting from complete versatility for other casthouse operations using that same machine? The article provides answers to these questions.




Matching existing equipment with Industry 4.0

The employees of Claudius Peters are experts in materials handling and processing systems in the cement, coal, alumina, gypsum and other bulk handling industries. The company designs and manufactures equipment for these industries. To survive and prosper in the age of Industry 4.0, companies must become agile organizations. New capabilities, new ways of thinking, new structures and new methods of communication are essential to this process of conversion. To equip themselves for the challenges ahead, companies must become experts in networked thinking, open communication and across-the-board collaboration. Conveying equipment is usually solid and robust. Once installed it operates for a long time and handles large amounts of material. CP`s latest goal was to make solid machines also intelligent machines, and so to enable its clients to improve the operation and maintenance process on existing equipment. That is why we created the CP Smart Device. It allows to collect data from existing installations without interfering with the existing control system. With this easy-to-use installation you can either store the data on the device or transfer them to an upper level system.


EGA’s progress in environment emissions reduction

Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) is continuously striving to reduce the impact of its aluminium production processes on the environment and to make the production more sustainable. In 2018, the company had the best year ever of producing more with less. Several greenfield and brownfield smelter expansions since Jebel Ali smelter start-up in 1979 brought the total production of its two smelters in Jebel Ali and Al Taweelah to 2.557m tonnes of hot metal to casthouse in 2018. At the same time, the harmful emissions to the environment per tonne of aluminium have decreased due to improvements in capture, cleaning and recycling. In 2018, the greenhouse gas emissions were the lowest ever, and process waste recycling the highest ever in EGA history. The article summarizes EGA’s most important environmental achievements.


Reel Alesa’s latest high capacity ship unloader generation

Photo: Reel Alesa

Reel Alesa supplied a 500 t/h pneumatic ship unloader to the RioTinto Iceland Smelter (Isal). The newly designed machine sets a benchmark in efficient and low-cost alumina unloading. The unloader combines Alesa’s experience for high capacity alumina and coke ship unloaders with improved efficiency, maintainability and Industry 4.0 capabilities.





Highway to hands-free casting

Vertical continuous casting undeniably can be a high risk operation – both for the equipment used and particularly for the operators. The safety of operators is the priority, which means keeping operators away from sources of danger. But without operators nearby, the casting machine requires highly precise sensors, reactive actuators and start-up tools to manage the process as part of an automated system without involving the operators, thereby paving the way to ‘hands-free’ casting.


Performing MHD cell stability sensitivity analysis using MHD-Valdis

When designing aluminium reduction cell technology or retrofitting an existing one, there are two critical cell design aspects that must be addressed. One of them is the cell energy balance, the second one is the Magneto-Hydro-Dynamic or MHD cell stability. The second aspect is simpler than it looks: one wants the cell to be a very bad resonator of perturbations; when you bang it, you want the resonating noise to die quickly. The physics of that MHD noise resonance in an aluminium reduction cell is now well understood and can be reproduced numerically in mathematical models that can then be used as design tools. MHD-Valdis is such a mathematical model. It is commercially available to the whole aluminium industry, to be used as an efficient cell design tool for improving the cell busbar design in particular. The article presents key aspects of the behaviour of the MHD-Valdis code to demonstrate its ability to reproduce the MHD behaviour of an aluminium reduction cell.


RuC for the Hall-Héroult process

Ready-to-Use Cathode (RuC) blocks based on the use of copper inside the cathode have been implemented in many aluminium smelters since 2015. The article presents the concept and key performance parameters, along with measurements of cathode resistance, collector bars current distributions and the temperature at cell start-up, also as a function of cell age. Today more than 500 RuC cathodes are in operation, and more RuC cells are started every day. They achieve significant energy savings, and they improve the cell’s magneto-hydrodynamic state. By reducing peaks in cathode surface current density, they should lead to longer cathode life. The RuC concept avoids cast iron rodding and makes it easier to recover copper when relining. A new generation of cathode is ready to be implemented.


A novel universally retrofittable low energy aluminium reduction cell technology - The MetSol Cell

Photo: MetSol

The primary aluminium industry today faces two major challenges: the cost of energy and the environmental emissions, particularly perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which primarily occur during anode effects. MetSol has developed technology that effectively addresses the two challenges.







Digitalization in primary aluminium: where are we today and how to speed things up

There are many buzzwords out there when it comes to digitalization – Industry 4.0, advanced process control, big data, etc. The reality is that the definitions of these terms are not always clear, and in complex process industries like alumina refining and aluminium smelting, automation and digitalization can sometimes get muddled. The article tries to define what Industry 4.0 in primary aluminium is, and to propose solutions to the common industry challenges when it comes to digitalization, and how to speed things up.


Overcoming challenges to dealing with SPL in cement plants

Photo: Regain

One of the few proven and sustainable approaches to dealing with spent potlining (SPL) is to consume the SPL in the manufacture of cement. Properly implemented, this approach can deal with all of the components of SPL process and can eliminate the risk presented by these materials. However there are serious challenges to the successful disposal or recycling of SPL in cement plants. Industrial experience is that many promising cement industry solutions to the SPL problem have failed to meet expectations from the perspectives of both the aluminium industry and the cement industry participants. How to deal with the challenges of placing SPL with cement producers to realize reliable and sustainable elimination of this hazardous waste and the associated liabilities? This article is intended to enhance aluminium industry understanding of the problems that SPL typically presents to a cement plant operator, and how these problems may be addressed.


Hertwich multi-chamber scrap melting furnaces are setting new standards

Hertwich Engineering, a company of the SMS group, has since the 1990s worked to improve the recycling process for contaminated aluminium scrap. Since then the processes and plants have been optimized continuously. This article summarizes the development and status of the Hertwich melting technology.


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