Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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2007 — Environment

Energy efficiency: always part of the program

In its Policy on Energy Efficiency, Alcoa Canada Primary Metals declares its commitment to optimizing energy use in its facilities and promoting conservation among its employees and partners.
Alcoa’s structured approach towards energy efficiency, which includes Energy committees at each of its plants as well as a dedicated regional committee, led to significant improvements in 2006.  The Baie-Comeau, Bécancour and Deschambault smelters each appointed a full-time resource to focus on this issue.
Driven by its goal to increase production quality while fostering sustainable development, the Baie-Comeau Smelter achieved energy savings of approximately 3.3 MW in 2006.  A number of improvements were implemented during the year that resulted in this achievement.  The largest sources of savings were:

  • Use of compressed air savers for cooling hot points
  • Improved electrical contact between anode stubs and frame on the prebake pots
  • Automation of the compressed air control systems
  • Reduction of anode effects at the Söderberg pots

Ten new energy efficiency projects were planned for 2007, in addition to an initiative to increase employee awareness both on and off the job.
Inspired by its energy efficiency campaign, “Turn a breeze into aluminum”, the Bécancour Smelter also implemented a number of improvements to free up megawatts.  An alumina feeder/breaker optimization initiative (DPAA) together with the addition of blade gates at the compressor intake resulted in savings of approximately 0.5 MW in 2006.  In 2007, the plant is aiming for an additional 2.95 MW in energy gains.
At the Bécancour Rod Plant, natural gas consumption was reduced by modifying the troughs to decrease the surface where aluminum circulates, as well as by adding insulation.  It also successfully eliminated heat loss and reduced gas consumption by 30%.
Operator training focused on better temperature control and a new daily management system for gas consumption at the furnaces will ensure close management going forward.
In Deschambault, over a dozen energy efficiency improvements were considered.  Among the major successes were ending the practice of using compressed air – which requires large amounts of energy – to cool rollings at the gas treatment centre.  They also completed an alumina feeder/breaker optimization project to reduce compressed air consumption.  An employee awareness campaign raised the profile of this issue at the plant.
The projects underway in 2007 include the optimization of pot wall cooling, which is also done using compressed air.
By reducing energy consumption in other facets of their operations, Alcoa Canada Primary Metals plants can direct it towards aluminum production, all the while building a culture of sustainable development.