Australia – Alcoa Corporation is trialing new technology to reduce carbon emissions in the alumina refining process.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has granted Alcoa of Australia $8.8 million to test the potential use of renewable energy in a process known as Mechanical Vapor Recompression (MVR). Alcoa is now working on technical and commercial research to adapt MVR technology to the refining industry. Compressors would be powered by renewable energy to convert waste vapor to steam, which would then be utilized to heat refinery processes.
Lowering carbon footprint
If the feasibility studies go well, Alcoa wants to build a three megawatt MVR module powered by renewable energy at the Wagerup refinery in Western Australia by the end of 2023 to put the technology to the test.
The MVR technology, which is driven by renewable energy, has the potential to lower the carbon footprint of an alumina refinery by 70%. By trapping water vapor that would otherwise be wasted to the atmosphere, the device has the potential to drastically cut water use in the refining process.
Provisional patent applications have been filed in Australia by Alcoa for the use of MVR technology in the alumina refining process. The patent applications include a wide range of MVR applications in refining, including retrofit and greenfield scenarios.