part of the solution
R&D: the key to our sustainable future
As we constantly look to find solutions to climate change, and increasingly look for ways to become more efficient, our refining research and development group (R&D) has an ever important role.

Alcoa’s global Technology Delivery Group (TDG) is based right here in Australia at Kwinana in WA, and services Alcoa globally.  Since 1968 TDG at Kwinana has been developing innovative new equipment and processes for cleaner, more efficient production at Alcoa refineries worldwide, and consistently helps to solve environmental challenges through new technology.

TDG is the western world’s largest refining R&D group and the largest gathering of industrial scientists and engineers in WA - employing over 80 scientists, engineers research and support staff.  They also have the largest number of PhD’s working together in WA outside of a university or CSIRO.

Alcoa invests around $25 million on R&D in Australia each year.  Through TDG, Alcoa has also established extensive relationships with research and education facilities, external to our business, which are assisting research into a variety of issues confronting the business and broader society.

TDG is playing a key role in finding solutions to climate change and has developed a revolutionary ‘carbon capture’ process which is locking up large amounts of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Read more about carbon capture.  

Our scientists are also unlocking solutions to some of today’s significant sustainability challenges. Residue is part of business for any type of minerals processing industry.  The basis of all minerals processing industries is to extract a component of value from an ore body.  The alumina and aluminium industries are no different – and for more than two decades TDG has been investigating alternate uses for red mud and red sand residue.

Indeed, development of alternative uses for bauxite residue continues to be one of the major objectives for our residue research program run by TDG.  Reuse of residue sand is already happening within our operations and is a demonstration of residue being put to a sustainable use. The red sand is used in the construction of residue drying areas and in surface capping for residue rehabilitation.

Alcoa of Australia has examined a range of potential uses for the sand and mud components of bauxite residue, including:

  • As a soil amendment for broad use acre farming and horticultural uses; 
  • As a sand for use in cement manufacture; 
  • In effluent treatment ponds and septic systems; 
  • For trace metal retention from road runoff, rubbish tips and acid mine drainage; 
  • In ceramic manufacturing; 
  • In plastics manufacturing; and  
  • For use as a road base.

Bauxite residue has the potential to become a valuable resource to the State.

protecting the coast in geelong
Good news for Geelong with a joint project between Alcoa Point Henry and Greening Australia receiving significant funding through the Federal Government’s ‘Caring for our Country’ initiative.

The ‘Moolapio’ project began in 2006 and is focused on 500 hectares of Alcoa’s land at Point Henry in Geelong.  The site contains a diverse range of landforms, including rare foreshore habitats to expansive saline and freshwater wetlands to agricultural land. Together Alcoa and Greening Australia are conserving, enhancing and restoring the flora and fauna of the area.

Last year, Moolapio was awarded the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award for ‘best specific environmental initiative’.

Richard Marles MP said the Government was impressed by the partnership between Alcoa and Greening Australia: “This funding will benefit the entire Geelong community by providing extra funding to protect what is one of the finest remnant areas of coastal saltmarsh in the region.”

“Since forming the Moolapio partnership, a number of rare and endangered birds have been sighted here, including brolgas using the wetland areas as a flocking site. 

“A walking trail through the wetlands with an education and interpretation focus will provide the community the ability to use the area for recreation while providing protection for one of our most important areas.”

Alcoa Point Henry Plant Manager Stewart Esdale said: “Protecting and preserving the environment is a core element of Alcoa’s commitment to sustainability.
“Having the Federal Government support a voluntary initiative such as this shows true commitment to restoration and protection of our coastline.”
Ron Dodds, Regional Manager for Greening Australia Victoria, said Moolapio ticks boxes for both the local community and the scientific community.

“Greening Australia is transforming landscapes across the country by entering into partnerships like this one with Alcoa and the Australian Government,” Mr Dodds said.

“We engage communities and provide environmental opportunity for local people.
“Our planning and restoration work is based on sound scientific research and this project in particular will extend our ability to continue research into grassland restoration and coastal protection on a considerable scale.”

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Carbon Capture at Kwinana Refinery

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Dr David Cooling - Residue Development Manager at TDG

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How Carbon Capture works ...

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Ron Dodds, Richard Marles and Stewart Esdale following the announcement that the Moolapio project will receive Government funding