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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
“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
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.”