Boyne Smelters general manager operations Joe Rea
Boyne Smelters general manager operations Joe Rea Mike Richards GLA200117bsljobs

Smelter's massive carbon reduction hinges on Canadian trial

BOYNE Smelter manager Joe Rea says ground-breaking technology, which could dramatically reduce his company's carbon footprint, will need to be thoroughly tested before being installed at the smelter.

"It will take a few years for new technology to prove itself at a commercial scale before making changes," he said.

"Once that is done, we can consider whether it makes sense to retrofit our smelter with the new technology.

This is breakthrough technology for the aluminium industry, but there is no immediate change for our smelter.

"That will be several years down the road."

Last week, Rio Tinto Canada announced the most significant innovation in the industry in more than a century.

Alcoa, Rio Tinto and Apple have launched a joint venture to develop and market new technology which will replace all direct greenhouse gas emissions produced by the aluminium smelting process.

Traditional smelting uses electrolysis via highly charged carbon anode rods to separate the base elements of alumina, oxygen and aluminium.

The resulting chemical reaction produces by-products including carbon and sulfur dioxide and fluorides.

The new process replaces the carbon in the anodes with patented materials to make inert anodes with the only potential by-product being oxygen.

The technology developed by Alcoa has been used at a factory in America since 2009 and has produced 700 tons of aluminium using the new process.

Elysis expects to offer the technology to the market by 2024 and existing smelters can be retro-fitted with the anodes.