As most of you probably know, we are starting 2021 with a change in our Aluminium Technology Solutions mission and a focus on R&D and industrialization of innovative technological projects in close collaboration with our colleagues of Rio Tinto Aluminium sites and activities. Even if our teams stay committed to fulfil all our engagements and will continue to provide ALPSYS systems and support worldwide, this is a very big change which will see us take some distance with the users of AP Technology™ solutions across the world.
Even if 2020 has been totally different because of the COVID situation, development and industrialisation on the Hall-Heroult process by our team have continued unabated (albeit in a somewhat different manner) to better and safely implement technical and advanced developments for the AP60/APXe and AP40 cell platforms.
The technology centers at LRF (France) for the APXe cells and at Jonquière (Canada) for the AP60 cells are stepping up their capabilities to develop advanced technology bricks to further improve the performance and robustness of the high productivity and low energy versions of the existing platforms plus to be in a position to explore new paths with additional sensors and new data capture and treatment.
The new generation anode baking furnace without headwalls being demonstrated in our Rio Tinto plant in Bell Bay, Tasmania, Australia has now more than three years of operation. This allows us to confirm the expected significant productivity and CAPEX advantages as well as very positive results on the OPEX.
Towards smelter 4.0 solutions and beyond
During this difficult year because of COVID, new ways for supporting the smelters have emerged. We have further developed our capacity to provide remote technical support to potline working via ALPSYS/RADAR and we have supplemented this with virtual on-site mission capability. The new field of data analytics has seen more projects trialled in our plants with promising results. And as more data are being captured – with new sensors being developed to sustain potline conditions and be affordable – process knowledge improves and opens ways to enhance process control procedures.
Rio Tinto MAX – the autonomous anode transport vehicle – has been under operational testing at Liberty Aluminium Dunkerque Smelter in France undergoing many various performance and reliability runs in the plant workshops.
ALPSYS V15 have been installed at Clients’ sites with constant improvements and important innovations in both functionalities and product characteristics. Enhancements to ALPSYS have kept flowing in so as to bring important process control, technical supervision and functionality innovations. RADAR have been rolled out. Advanced data analytics modules have been implemented. A new version of the ALPSYS potmicro has been developed and started test operations in Rio Tinto Aluminium facilities. An enhanced version of ALPSYS mobile interface has been developed and is reaching acceptance test. Such innovations and new tools target processes efficiency, robustness and mobility via faster response to anomaly and easier detection of abnormal process patterns.
The excellent technical results from all AP Technology™ platforms achieved in 2020 across the world at Rio Tinto Aluminium plants and at our licensee plants have confirmed the continued renewed potential of these platforms and are a clear tribute to the talents of the teams developing and operating the technology. I have no doubt that this will continue in the future with each site continuing to develop and work on its specific ways to deliver adapted solutions for amperage creep or energy reduction to optimize its operations and shoulder any unexpected technical difficulty.
At the time of taking the helm of the Aluminium Technology Solutions team at Rio Tinto Aluminium, on behalf of the entire AP Technology™ team, I want to thank all our customers for their longstanding support over the last four decades which saw the deployment of the AP18 and AP30 technologies around the world. I also look forward to being able to network with you and discuss technology development on the occasion of future meeting opportunities.
Please enjoy reading the interesting updates and news on the latest technology development of AP Technology in the following pages.
At Rio Tinto, our purpose is to produce materials essential to human progress. We aim to do this in a sustainable way and be part of the solution to help address the climate change challenge and assist in the transition to a low‑carbon future. We are proud to be an industry leader in sustainable thinking and work in partnership across the aluminium value chain to tackle climate change and improve performance.
In line with the Paris agreement on climate change, Rio Tinto has set ambitious targets regarding GHG emissions. As issued on 2020 February 26th, the first objective is a 30% reduction in intensity by 2030 then to be Carbon Neutral by 2050. RTAP is currently working on a technology roadmap to deliver these goals. Apart from ELYSIS, the backbone of electrolysis CO2 emissions reduction, several avenues are under study including Carbon Capture Utilisation or Sequestration, PFC eradication thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Flexible Cells, the latest opening the way to more intermittent green energy from solar or wind in the energy mix.
On the product side, RenewAl™
our low CO2 aluminium solution is a good illustration of our ambition for responsible aluminium.
We can also mention the fact that we have now 22 sites worldwide certified with aluminium stewardship initiative, Rio Tinto being a founding member in 2012.
We also empower customers to make informed choices with START responsible aluminium. START’s purpose is to provide our customers with transparent and traceable information regarding the sustainable nature of our aluminium products, so we can support our customers to make better informed decisions about the materials they use for the parts and products they sell. START is built on a digital blockchain model, providing traceability and provenance on our aluminium products. START delivers transparent impact and insights assessment across key criteria of Rio Tinto aluminium in the market: Global warming potential, Water, Energy, Recycled content, Waste, Safety, Communities, Third-party assessment, Whistleblower programme, Diversity. START will give you the choice for a more sustainable supply chain.