Increasing Alcoa’s Refinery Yield
Our researchers developed process and technology innovations to increase the yields of Alcoa’s refineries over the past decade by 2.4 million metric tons of alumina annually. That 17% yield improvement is equivalent to adding an entire new refinery the size of Alcoa of Australia’s Wagerup refinery. They figured a way to boost productivity by developing a liquor composition model that allows more alumina to be extracted during the precipitation process, saving us $24 million annually. Our researchers developed state-of-the-art instruments, which in addition to smarter control methods, improve the productivity of our refineries’ main circuit controls, gaining another $60 million/year in savings. Experimenting with ways to drive down energy costs, they developed a wide range of innovations, such as indirect slurry heating, that combine to produce another $150 million yearly in savings, which reduces the cost of producing alumina by more than 12% per metric ton.