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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2013 — Environment

Anode effects: Exceptional performance at Deschambault

The first quarter of 2012 saw the Deschambault Smelter achieving its best-ever performance in terms of anode effects and CO2 emissions with an average decline of 37% compared to the same period in each of the past eight years.
In fact, it was the best first quarter since the smelter’s start-up. This exceptional control of anode effects—an upset condition in the smelting process that releases additional greenhouse gas—was due to a number of factors, but primary among them was improved equipment and, above all, the commitment of employees. Three elements played a significant role in our colleagues’ performance:
Training: In December 2011, the operations teams all had training in the new pot control system, QLC. With so many new faces in the potrooms, and a general need to learn the QLC system, the training was instrumental in helping participants fully integrate the measures we need to apply to minimize anode effects.
Awareness: Every day the technical team monitored anode effects that occurred. In collaboration with Electrolysis sector heads, they then informed operators of what was working and what was not. By monitoring anode effects directly with operators reinforced the need for quick action when a problem arose. Close collaboration by everyone at the management and operational levels during the implementation of the improved monitoring system made this exceptional performance possible.
Organization: The committee in charge of monitoring the alumina feeder-crust breaker systems, made up of members of the technical team and the central workshop, meets each month to follow up and make decisions on issues that needed resolution, both in terms of the maintenance and management of this equipment in the potrooms. In this way, the causes of frequent breakdowns are identified and targeted actions are taken to minimize them.
Several technical elements also contributed to this success. Good alumina particle size was one, but it’s also worth mentioning:
The QLC control system: The new control system, implemented in 2011, contains a power regulation system for pots that predicts anode effects so that action can be taken before they occur. Furthermore, a new algorithm for periods of interruptible electric service significantly reduced the number of anode effects caused by amperage declines.
Grooved anodes: Installing these anodes improves performance by increasing alumina dilution in the electrolytic bath.
Thank you to all those responsible for this great performance!