Hydrogen could cut carbon emissions in alumina refining

Hydrogen could cut carbon emissions in alumina refining


Australia Rio Tinto has collaborated with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to investigate if hydrogen may be used in place of natural gas in alumina refineries to cut emissions.

Rio Tinto will perform a $1.2 million feasibility study, co-funded by ARENA with a $580,000 grant, to investigate the use of clean hydrogen to substitute natural gas in the refining calcination process at the Yarwun aumina refinery in Gladstone.

The study

The research will be carried out at Rio Tinto’s Bundoora Technical Development Centre in Melbourne, where the company’s in-house development capabilities has now been expanded to hydrogen.

The study comprises two distinct work packages:

  • Preliminary engineering and design study conducted to understand the construction and operational requirements of a potential demonstration project at the Yarwun alumina refinery.
  • Simulating the calcination process using a lab scale reactor at the Bundoora Technical Development Centre.

When finished, the study will help determine the viability of a potential demonstration project. Rio Tinto has filed patent applications for the hydrogen calcination process. Rio Tinto aims to achieve net zero emissions across all of its businesses by 2050. From a 2018 baseline, the corporation is aiming for a 15% decrease in absolute emissions and a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030.