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September 19, 2001

High Yield Melting Wins Governor's Award

NEWBURGH, Ind.--September 19, 2001-- Alcoa’s High Yield Melting furnace, a research and development project conducted at the company's Warrick, Ind., Operations, has received an Indiana Governor’s Award for Excellence in Pollution Prevention.

The award was presented Sept. 19 during the state’s annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show held in Indianapolis. High Yield Melting was the winner in the Research and Development category of the award program.

“High Yield Melting has the potential to greatly improve Alcoa’s ability to produce high quality, low cost aluminum,” said Mel Lager, Warrick Operations’ vice president and general manager. “But this award recognizes other aspects of HYM that we consider equally important: improved environmental performance and a safer work place."

Alcoa developed High Yield Melting as part of an alliance with Praxair, an industry leader in industrial gases. The project involved constructing and operating a commercial scale aluminum melting furnace in Warrick Operations’ Ingot Plant.

“HYM is significantly more efficient than conventional combustion,” said Wendy Winge, the project leader for Alcoa. “It reduces the need for natural gas, reduces the amount of waste created in the melting process and increases the amount of aluminum that can be processed by the furnace.”

The HYM furnace was tested at Warrick Operations in 1999 and 2000. The testing demonstrated that the technology has the potential to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 50 percent, natural gas consumption by 45 percent and waste metal generation by 85 percent. As a result of the tests, Alcoa is considering implementing the technology at appropriate facilities around the world.

Conventional combustion furnaces melt aluminum using high velocity burners firing downward into the metal. Combustion byproducts are captured and exit through a flue located in the lower portion of the furnace. Conventional combustion processes generate large amounts of waste material, called dross. Dross must be physically removed, requiring substantial labor and equipment costs.

HYM utilizes an inert nitrogen blanket that acts as a protective barrier. Horizontal low velocity burners near the furnace roof provide radiant heat that is transferred from the furnace roof and walls. In this highly controlled environment, molten metal remains isolated from free oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor, significantly reducing waste material and furnace exhaust gases.

“I am very proud of the Alcoa and Praxair team that developed the High Yield Melting project,” said Mike Coleman, president of Alcoa’s Rigid Packaging Division. “Their creativity and perseverance overcame significant technological challenges to create a new manufacturing process with great promise for our industry.”

For more information:
Mike Belwood