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Aluminium

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ALUMINIUM
Production Process Aluminium can be produced via two different routes: primary aluminium production from ore and recycling aluminium from process scrap and used aluminium products. The production of primary aluminium consists of three steps: bauxite mining, alumina production and electrolysis. The last two mentioned will be described hereafter, bauxite mining is covered in the section Environment, Ecology & Recycling. Alumina production Bauxite has to be processed into pure aluminium oxide (alumina) before it can be converted to aluminium by electrolysis. This is achieved through the use of the Bayer chemical process in alumina refineries. The aluminium oxide is released from the other substances in bauxite in a caustic soda solution, which is filtered to remove all insoluble particles. The aluminium hydroxide is then precipitated from the soda solution, washed and dried while the soda solution is recycled. After calcination, the end-product, aluminium oxide (Al2O3), is a fine grained white powder.Four tonnes of bauxite are required to produce two tonnes of alumina which in turn produces one tonne of aluminium at the primary smelter. In 1998, 45 million tonnes of alumina were produced world-wide. The main production areas are: Alumina refineries are often located near to bauxite mines for logistics reasons.

Electrolysis Aluminium primary smelting and casting Primary aluminium is produced in reduction plants (or "smelters"), where pure aluminium is extracted from alumina by the Hall-Hroult process. The reduction of alumina into liquid aluminium is operated at around 950 degrees Celsius in a fluorinated bath under high intensity electrical current. This process takes place in electrolytic cells (or "pots"), where carbon cathodes form the bottom of the pot and act as the negative electrode. Anodes (positive electrodes) are held at the top of the pot and are consumed during the process when they react with the oxygen coming from the alumina. There are two types of anodes currently in use. All potlines built since the early 1970s use the prebake anode technology, where the anodes, manufactured from a mixture of petroleum coke and coal tar pitch (acting as a binder), are pre-baked in separate anode plants. In the Soederberg technology, the carbonaceous mixture is fed directly into the top part of the pot, where self-baking anodes are produced using the heat released by the electrolytic process. At regular intervals, molten aluminium tapped from the pots is transported to the cast house where it is alloyed in holding furnaces by the addition of other metals (according to the users needs), cleaned of oxides and gases, and then cast into ingots. These can take the form of extrusion billets, for extruded products, or rolling ingots, for rolled products, depending on the way it is to be further processed. Aluminium mould castings are produced by foundries which use this technique to manufacture shaped components. World-wide trends in production are shown in the following graph. Aluminium output has increased by a factor of 13 since 1950, making aluminium the most widely used non-ferrous metal. In 1998, world-wide production of primary aluminium was about 22.7 million tonnes per year for and installed capacity of 24.8 million tonnes. References: Web site: http://www.eaa.net/material/primary.asp

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Aluminium

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The Hall-Heroult method of aluminium production occurs in large refractory-lined steel containers called pots that are connected in series and housed in long buildings called pot rooms. Alusaf has seven such pot rooms producing over 670 000 tons of aluminium a year. A. Suspended above each cathode are several closely arranged carbon blocks that serve as the anode (positive electrode). The anodes are suspended by rods in the bath of molten electrolyte in which the alumina is dissolved. B. An electric current of up to 315 000 amps enters the pot via the anode blocks and reduces the alumina by electrolysis into aluminium and oxygen. The oxygen is deposited on the carbon anode where it burns the carbon to form carbon dioxide. The aluminium, being heavier than the electrolyte, collects at the base of the pot. The equation for the basic reaction is: 2Al2O3 + 3C = 4Al + 3CO2 C. Each pot consists of a steel shell that is lined with refractory and carbon blocks to serve as the cathode (negative electrode). D. Cryolite, the predominant constituent of the electrolyte, is a sodium aluminium fluoride salt which, when held molten at a temperature of around 960C, can dissolve alumina. The electrolytic process of separating the Alumina atom into molten Aluminium and Carbon dioxide waste

To sustain the electrolytic process, alumina is fed into the pots at regular intervals to maintain a sufficient quantity of dissolved alumina in the bath. The process is controlled by a computer that detects and interprets minute changes in electrical resistance and determines when to feed alumina to the pot. As the carbon anode is gradually consumed, it is periodically lowered to maintain the optimum distance of 5cm between the anode and cathode surfaces. For each ton of aluminium produced about 430 kg of carbon is consumed. A continuous supply of anodes is manufactured at both smelters in dedicated carbon plants that comprise paste plants, carbon bake furnaces and rodding shops. 1. In the paste plants, carefully crushed and graded fractions of calcined petroleum coke and recycled anode butts are heated and mixed with molten pitch. 2. The hot mixture is then compacted into blocks called green (unbaked) anodes. At Hillside, each anode weighs about 836 kg; at Bay side the anodes weigh about 624 kg. Approximately 400 000 anodes are produced each year for both smelters.

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Aluminium

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3. The green anodes are transferred to the carbon bake furnaces where they are heated in deep brick-lined pits to around 1 100C over a period of 21 days. This baking process calcines the binding pitch and ensures that the anodes have good thermal and electrical conductivity. Exhaust manifolds collect waste gases and carry them to the fume treatment centre. 4. After baking, aluminium rods are attached to the anodes and sealed with cast iron. The rod suspends the anode in the pot and acts as an electrical conductor. 5. After the rods are attached, the anodes are delivered to the pot rooms for positioning in the pots. Some 27 days later, the remains of the anodes, known as butts, are returned from the pot rooms and recycled. The rods are also reused. 1. The molten metal is tapped from each pot approximately once per day for transfer in special-purpose hot-metal carriers to holding furnaces in the cast house. The furnaces are heated and maintain the aluminium at the desired casting temperature of 700C. 2. After the aluminium is poured into cast house. furnaces, elements such as silicon, magnesium, copper, iron, titanium or boron are added to meet requisite alloy specifications. The metal surface is skimmed to remove the dross. The clean alloy is then cast. 3. Forty-four 22-kg ingots are stacked in a configuration of interlocking bundles. Each weighing one ton, they are strapped and trucked to the export stockyard at the harbor in an around-the-clock road haulage super packs for easy handling. The electrolytic production of aluminium at the smelters is a complex 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year process, dependant on a regular supply of raw materials and huge amounts of energy. Crucially important is the role of the ancillary departments that must ensure an uninterrupted supply of quality raw materials, spares, consumables or services to the three primary production areas - carbon, pot rooms and cast house. The ancillary departments include maintenance, procurement, materials management, laboratory, environment, finance, human resources, engineering, sales and marketing, communication and information systems. The warehouses contain tens of thousands of parts necessary for the continued functioning of the smelters. While certain specialised parts are purchased abroad, Billiton Aluminium's purchasing policy gives preference, on a competitive basis, to local suppliers and contractors. Preventative maintenance is a key factor in the successful operation of the smelter. Effective planning and organisation of maintenance work prevents production backlogs, keeps equipment in top condition and ensures that productivity remains high. Integrated information and technology systems are vital to Hillside's success as the focus of organisations worldwide turns to knowledge as a prime source of wealth creation. Designed for maximum effectiveness, the company's three-level information network is fully integrated and encompasses programmers to operate equipment, monitor performance and provide status reports. It also manages the business systems for finance, maintenance and human resources. References: Web site : http://www.hillside.co.za/history/production.html Aluminium ore, most commonly bauxite, is plentiful and occurs mainly in tropical and sub-tropical areas: Africa, West Indies, South America and Australia. There are also some deposits in Europe. Bauxite is refined into aluminium oxide tri hydrate (alumina) and then electrolytically reduced into metallic aluminium. Primary aluminium production facilities are located all over the world, often in areas where there are abundant supplies of inexpensive energy, such as hydro-electric power. Two to three tonnes of bauxite are required to produce one tonne of alumina and two tonnes of alumina are required to produce one tonne of aluminium metal.

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Aluminium

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The aluminium industry relies on the Bayer process to produce alumina from bauxite. It remains the most economic means of obtaining alumina, which in turn is vital for the production of aluminium metal - some two tonnes of alumina are required to produce on tonne of aluminium. The Bayer Process

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Aluminium

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The primary aluminium industry is dependent on a regular supply of alumina for four functions: Basic raw material for aluminium production 1.Thermal insulator for the top of electrolytic cells 2.Coating for pre baked anodes 3.Absorbent filter for cell emissions Alumina Production Bauxite is washed, ground and dissolved in caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) at high pressure and temperature. The resulting liquor contains a solution of sodium aluminate and un dissolved bauxite residues containing iron, silicon, and titanium. These residues sink gradually to the bottom of the tank and are removed. They are known colloquially as "red mud". The clear sodium aluminate solution is pumped into a huge tank called a precipitator. Fine particles of alumina are added to seed the precipitation of pure alumina particles as the liquor cools. The particles sink to the bottom of the tank, are removed, and are then passed through a rotary or fluidised calciner at 1100C to drive off the chemically combined water. The result is a white powder, pure alumina. The caustic soda is returned to the start of the process and used again. More information about the Chemistry of the Process is available. The process of producing pure alumina from bauxite has changed very little since the first plant was opened in 1893. The Bayer process can be considered in three stages: Extraction The hydrated alumina is selectively removed from the other (insoluble) oxides by transferring it into a solution of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda): Al2O3.xH2O + 2NaOH ---> 2NaAlO2 + (x+1)H2O The process is far more efficient when the ore is reduced to a very fine particle size prior to reaction. This is achieved by crushing and milling the pre-washed ore. This is then sent to a heated pressure digester. Conditions within the digester (concentration, temperature and pressure) vary according to the properties of the bauxite ore being used. Although higher temperatures are theoretically favoured these produce several disadvantages including corrosion problems and the possibility of other oxides (other than alumina) dissolving into the caustic liquor. Modern plants typically operate at between 200 and 240 C and can involve pressures of around 30atm. After the extraction stage the liquor (containing the dissolved Al2O3) must be separated from the insoluble bauxite residue and purified as much as possible and filtered before it is delivered to the decomposer. The mud is thickened

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Aluminium

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and washed so that the caustic soda can be removed and recycled. Decomposition Crystalline alumina tri hydrate is extracted from the digestion liquor by hydrolysis: 2NaAlO2 + 4H2O ---> Al2O3.3H2O + 2NaOH This is basically the reverse of the extraction process, except that the product's nature can be carefully controlled by plant conditions (including seeding or selective nucleation, precipitation temperature and cooling rate). The alumina tri hydrate crystals are then classified into size fractions and fed into a rotary or fluidised bed calcination kiln. Calcination Alumina tri hydrate crystals are calcined to remove their water of crystallisation and prepare the alumina for the aluminium smelting process. The mechanism for this step is complex but the process, when carefully controlled, dictates the properties of the final product. References: Web site: http://www.world-aluminum.org/production/ Back

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Aluminium Processing

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All about Aluminium and its processing


Strengthening Mechanisms: Introduction Pure, untreated aluminium is a soft metal with insufficient strength for most engineering applications. In order to take advantage of its low density, aluminium has to be strengthened by one or more mechanisms. These are considered in det The 4 mechanisms In general, four different strengthening mechanisms are used to strengthen aluminium. These are summarised below: Mechanism Description Plastic deformation, or work hardening, of metals increases the dislocation density. Dense dislocation 'tangles' can form, obstructing the movement of other dislocations. Alloy elements, such as Mg, Mn and Cu can 'pin' dislocations, thereby strengthening the material. Small, finely dispersed precipitates can significantly increase the strength of aluminium alloys. Reducing the grain size increases the alloy strength according to the Hall-Petch relationship. Dislocation barrier Other dislocations Solute atoms Precipitates Grain boundaries

Strain hardening Solute hardening Precipitation hardening Grain size hardening

Softening Mechanisms in Aluminium Alloys Alloys that develop their shape and properties by cold-working often have to be re-softened at regular intervals before further deformation can take place. Other examples of softening include the re-solution of second phases in age-hardening alloys, and the controlled grain growth of alloys with small grain sizes. An interesting exception is provided by solute-hardened materials which cannot be softened since this strengthening mechanism is determined solely by composition and not by thermal or mechanical processing. Strengthening Mechanism Associated Softening Mechanism(s) Strain Hardening Age hardening Grain Size hardening Solute hardening Recovery, Recrystallisation, Grain growth Solution heat treatment Grain growth NONE

Aluminium Processing From bauxite extraction to the final aluminium products, several processes are needed. Firstly, alumina is extracted from bauxite through the Bayer process. Then, alumina is reduced by electrolysis into molten metallic aluminium through the Hall-Heroult process. This molten aluminium (also called primary aluminium) is then cast into ingots for subsequent remelting or more usually into cylindrical extrusion billets or rectangular rolling slabs. Besides primary production, aluminium recycling is also an important source of aluminium, especially for ingot production. Ingots are used to produce cast products like engine blocks.

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Aluminium Processing

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Extrusion billets are pushed through shape dies to give extruded profile used, for example, in structures while rolling slabs are hot rolled and usually cold rolled into sheet, plate or foil used, for example, for facade panels or packaging applications. Extruded profiles and sheets, frequently called wrought products, as well as cast products usually need subsequent transformations and treatments to become useful components or products. Those transformations (like surface treatment, forming, joining, etc.), frequently called enabling technologies, are gathered as downstream processes. Rolling: Introduction Rolled products, i.e. sheet, plate and foil constitute almost 50% of all aluminium alloys used.

In North America and Western Europe, the packaging industry consumes the majority of the sheet and foil for making beverage cans, foil containers and foil wrapping. Sheet is also used extensively in building for roofing and siding, in transport for airframes, road and rail vehicles, in marine applications, including offshore platforms, and superstructures and hulls of boats. Also, while relatively little is currently used in the manufacture of high volume production automobiles, it is expected that the next decade will see an increase of aluminium sheet used for body panels. The starting stock for most rolled products is the DC (Direct Chill semi-continuous cast) ingot. The size of the ingot depends on the size of the DC unit available, the hot rolling mill capacity, volume required for a particular end use and to some extent the alloys being cast. Ingots up to over 20 tons in weight, 500-600 mm thick, 2000 mm wide and 8000 mm long are produced. The DC ingot is usually cooled after casting to room temperature and then re-heated to around 500 C prior to successive passes through a hot rolling mill where it is reduced in thickness to about 4 - 6 mm The strip from the hot rolling mill is coiled for transport to the cold mill which might be on the same site or elsewhere. Cold mills, in a wide range of types and sizes are available; some are single stand, others 3 stands and some 5 stand. Cold rolling speeds vary but modern mills operate at exit speeds as high as 3000 m per minute and alloys may be cold rolled to thickness of around 0.05 mm. Applications of Rolled Products Here are some typical applications of rolled aluminium sheet and plate alloys. Strain-hardening alloys 1060 Chemical equipment, Tankers 1100 Cooking utensils, Decorative panels 3003, 3004 Chemical equipment, Storage tanks, Beverage can bodies 5005, 5050, 5052, 5657 Automotive trim, Architectural applications 5085, 5086 Marine structures, Storage tanks, Rail cars 5454, 5456 Pressure vessels, Armour plate 5182, 5356 Cryogenic tanks, Beverage can ends Heat-treatable alloys 2219 High temperature (e.g. supersonic aircraft) 2014, 2024 Airframes, Auto body sheet 6061, 6063, 6082, 6351, 6009, 6010 Marine structures, Heavy road transport, Rail cars, Auto body sheet

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Aluminium Processing

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7004, 7005, 7019, 7010 Missiles, Armour plate, Military bridges 7075, 7079, 7050, 7010, 7150 Airframes, Tooling plate Heat treatment Different aluminium alloys can be subjected to a range of heat treatments: Homogenisation: after casting, alloys are heated to remove any segregation, i.e. to obtain a homogenous composition throughout the alloy. Annealing: strain-hardening alloys (1xxx, 3xxx and 5xxx) can be softened after cold working. Precipitation or age hardening: 2xxx, 6xxx and 7xxx alloys can be strengthened by precipitation hardening, or 'ageing'. Solution heat treatment of precipitation hardening alloys prior to ageing in order to take alloy elements into solution. Stoving (e.g. to 'cure' a paint or lacquer coating) Process Routes Although we often tend to consider processes such as casting, rolling, extruding and heat treatment as separate processes, it is very important also to think in terms of entire process routes. A process route will be developed for a given application in order that all the required properties are achieved or optimised.On the following pages, you can see some different process routes for different semi-finished products.

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Aluminium Processing

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Recycling Aluminium has been recycled since the days it was first commercially produced and today recycled aluminium accounts for one-third of global aluminium consumption world-wide. Recycling is an essential part of the aluminium industry and makes sense economically, technically and ecologically. At the end of their useful life, all aluminium products retain some worth which guarantees that it is possible to create value by recycling them into new products. Efficiency of aluminium recycling thus translates into high recycling rates for the various applications. ail in this section. Applications The main properties which make aluminium a valuable material are its low density, strength, recyclability, corrosion resistance, durability, ductility, formability and conductivity. Due to this unique combination of properties, the variety of applications of aluminium continues to increase. It is essential in our daily lives. We cannot fly, go by high speed train, high performance car or fast ferry without it. We cannot get heat and light into our homes and offices without it. We depend on it to preserve our food, our medicine and to provide electronic components for our computers. Reference Web site: http://aluminium.matter.org.uk/ Back

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Alumina Process

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Alumina Process
Bauxite and Alumina

Alumina (aluminium oxide Al2O3) is a fine white material similar in appearance to salt. While alumina is also used in abrasive, ceramics and refectory industries, Queensland Alumina Limited produces only smelter-grade alumina for the owners reduction plants in Australia and overseas. The QAL process was designed to refine bauxite located at Weipa in North Queensland. The extensive deposits of this ore were formed by weathering of sands and rocks millions of years ago, increasing the alumina content as other more soluble elements were removed. Bauxite occurs close to the surface in seams varying from one meter to nine meters, formed as small reddish pebbles (pisolites). The ore is shipped to Gladstone following "beneficiation" to remove low-grade material, and blending to provide a consistent grade. The Bayer Process The Bayer Process - an economical method of producing aluminium oxide - was discovered by an Austrian chemist Karl Bayer and patented in 1887. The process dissolves the aluminium component of bauxite ore in sodium hydroxide (caustic soda); removes impurities from the solution; and precipitates alumina tri hydrate which is then calcined to aluminium oxide. A Bayer Process plant is principally a device for heating and cooling a large re circulating stream of caustic soda solution. Bauxite is added at the high temperature point, red mud is separated at an intermediate temperature, and alumina is precipitated at the low temperature point in the cycle. Bauxite usually consist of two forms of alumina - a mon hydrate form Boehmite (Al2O3.H2O) and a tri hydrate form Gibbsite (Al2O3.3H2O). QAL uses the Bayer Process to refine two grades of Weipa bauxite, the bulk of which is "monohydrate" grade bauxite.

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Alumina Process

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Boehmite requires elevated temperatures (above 200C) to dissolve readily in 10% sodium hydroxide solution. The tri hydrate grade bauxite is mainly Gibbsite which dissolves readily in 10% sodium hydroxide solution at temperatures below 150C. Consequently, monohydrate bauxite undergoes high temperature extraction under pressure in digesters, while tri hydrate grade material is added as a "sweetening bauxite" to the flash tanks where temperatures are less than 200C. The design of the plant meets the requirement of smelters of coarse or sandy alumina for reduction to aluminium. The recovery rate is about one tonne of alumina per 2.2 tonnes of bauxite. From the plants, million-tonne bauxite stockpile to the A-frame alumina storage sheds is a processing journey of about 2.5 days. The QAL plant circulates some 550 million liters of caustic soda solution through four distinct stages, the functions of which are detailed in this process description.

Process: 1. DIGESTION OF BAUXITE Grinding: Pisolitic, monohydrate-grade bauxite sized to a maximum of 20mm, is ground in 10 mills (each with one compartment of rods and one of balls) to allow better solid liquid contact during digestion. Recycled caustic soda solution is added to produce a pump able slurry, and lime is introduced for phosphate control and mud conditioning. Desilication: The silica component of the bauxite is chemically attacked by caustic soda, causing alumina and soda losses by combining to form solid desilication products. To de silicate the slurry prior to digestion, it is heated and held at atmospheric pressure in pre-treatment tanks, reducing the build-up of scale in tanks and pipes. Most desilication products pass out with the mud waste as sodium aluminium silicate compounds. Digestion: The plant has three digestion units. The monohydrate slurry is pumped by high pressure pumps through two agitated, vertical digester vessels operating in series. Mixed with steam and caustic solution, alumina in the bauxite forms a concentrated sodium aluminate solution leaving un dissolved impurities, principally inert iron and titanium oxides and silica compounds. Reaction conditions to extract the monohydrate alumina are about 250C and a pressure about 3500 kPa, achieved by steam generated at 5000 kPa in coal-fired boilers.

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Alumina Process

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Under these conditions, the chemical reactions are rapid:-

2NaOH + Al2O3.3H2O --> 2NaAlO2 + 4H2O 2NaOH + Al2O3.H2O --> 2NaAlO2 + 2H2O

By sizing the vessel to optimum holding time, about 97% of the total available alumina is extracted and the silica content of liquor is reduced. Heat Recovery: After digestion about 30% of the bauxite mass remains in suspension as a thin red mud slurry of silicates, and oxides of iron and titanium. The mud-laden liquor leaving the digestion vessel is flash-cooled to atmospheric boiling point by flowing through a series of flash vessels which operate at successively lower pressures. The flash steam generated is used to preheat incoming caustic liquor in tubular heat exchangers located parallel to the flash tank line. Condensate from the heat exchangers is used for boiler feed water and washing waste mud. Sweetening: The tri hydrate bauxite has separate grinding and pre-treatment facilities. During the pass through the flash tanks, this additional bauxite slurry with high tri hydrate alumina content is injected to maximise the alumina content of the liquor stream. This occurs in the appropriate flash vessels when the slurry from the digesters has been cooled to less than 200C. 2. CLARIFICATION OF THE LIQUOR STREAM Settlers: Most red mud waste solids are settled from the liquor stream in single deck 40 meter diameter settling tanks. Flocculants are added to the settler feed stream to improve the rate of mud settling and achieve good clarity in the overflow liquor. Washers: The mud is washed with fresh water in counter-current washing trains to recover the soda and alumina content in the mud before being pumped to large disposal dams on Boyne Island.

Slaked lime is added to dilute caustic liquor in the washing process to remove carbonate (Na2CO3) which forms by reaction with compounds in bauxite and also from the atmosphere and which reduces the effectiveness of liquor to dissolve alumina. Lime regenerates caustic soda, allowing the insoluble calcium carbonate to be removed with the waste mud.

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Alumina Process

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Na2CO3 + Ca(OH)2 --> CaCO3 + 2NaOH Filters: Settlers overflow liquor containing traces of fine mud is filtered in Kelly-type constant pressure filters using polypropylene filter cloth. Slaked lime slurry is used to produce a filter cake. Mud particles are held on the filter leaves for removal and treatment in the mud washers when filters are sequentially taken off line. Heat Interchange: With all solids removed, the pregnant liquor leaving the filter area, contains alumina in clear supersaturated solution. It is cooled by flash evaporation, the steam given off being used to heat spent liquor returning to digestion. 3. PRECIPITATION OF ALUMINA HYDRATE

Crystallisation: Dissolved alumina is recovered from the liquor by precipitation of crystals. Alumina precipitates as the tri hydrate Al2O3 .3H2O in a reaction which is the reverse of the digestion of tri hydrate 2NaAlO2 + 4H2O --> Al2O3.3H2O + 2 NaOH

The cooled pregnant liquor flows to rows of precipitation tanks which are seeded with crystalline tri hydrate alumina, usually of an intermediate or fine particle size to promote crystal growth. Each precipitation tank is agitated, with a holding time of about three hours. During the 25-30 hours pass through precipitation, alumina of various crystal sizes is produced. The entry temperature and the temperature gradient across the row, seed rate and caustic concentration are control variables used to achieve the required particle size distribution in the product. As correct particle size is important to smelter operations, sizing is carefully controlled. The QAL precipitation plant was designed to operate on a continuous basis to produce "sandy" or coarse alumina. Classification: The finished mix of crystal sizes is settled from the liquor stream and separated into three size ranges in three stages "gravity" classification tanks. The primary classifiers collect the coarse fraction which becomes the product hydrate. The intermediate and fine crystals from the secondary and tertiary classifiers are washed and returned to the precipitation tanks as seed. Spent Liquor: Spent caustic liquor essentially free from solid overflows from the tertiary classifiers and is returned through an evaporation stage where it is re concentrated, heated and recycled to dissolve more alumina in the digesters. Fresh caustic soda is added to the stream to make up for process losses. 4. CALCINATION OF ALUMINA

Washing: A slurry of coarse hydrate (Al2O3.3H2O) from the primary thickeners is pumped to hydrate storage tanks and is filtered and washed on horizontal-table vacuum filters to remove process liquor. Calcining:

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Alumina Process

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The resulting filter cake is fed to a series of calcining units - an 1800 tonnes a day circulating fluidised bed calciner or one of nine rotary kilns each 100m long and 4m in diameter. The feed material is calcined to remove both free moisture and chemically-combined water. Firing-zone temperatures above 1100C are used, achieved by firing with natural gas. The circulating fluidised bed calciner is more energy efficient than the older rotary kilns. Product sandy alumina particles are 90%+ 45 m (microns) in size. Cooling: Rotary or satellite coolers are used to cool the calcined alumina from the rotary kilns, and to pre-heat secondary combustion air for the kilns. Fluidised-bed coolers further reduce alumina temperature to less than 90C before it is discharged on to conveyor belts which carry it to storage buildings where it is stockpiled for shipment. Reference: Web site http://www.qal.com.au/ Back

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Aluminium - Extruded Products

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Aluminium - Extruded Products


Introduction

Extruded products constitute more than 50 % of the market for aluminium products in Europe of which the building industry consumes the majority. Aluminium extrusions are used in commercial and domestic buildings for window and door frame systems, prefabricated houses/building structures, roofing and exterior cladding, curtain walling, shop fronts, etc. Furthermore, extrusions are also used in transport for airframes, road and rail vehicles and in marine applications. The term extrusion is usually applied to both the process, and the product obtained, when a hot cylindrical billet of aluminium is pushed through a shaped die (forward or direct extrusion, see Figure 1). The resulting section can be used in long lengths or cut into short parts for use in structures, vehicles or components. Also, extrusions are used for the starting stock for drawn rod, cold extruded and forged products. While the majority of the many hundreds of extrusion presses used throughout the world are covered by the simple description given above it should be noted that some presses accommodate rectangular shaped billets for the purpose of producing extrusions with wide section sizes. Other presses are designed to push the die into the billet. This latter modification is usually termed "indirect" extrusion. Figure 1: Scheme of direct extrusion

The versatility of the process in terms of both alloys available and shapes possible makes it one of the most valued assets in helping the aluminium producer supply users with solutions to their design requirements. The extrusion process The fundamental features of the process are as follows: A heated billet cut from DC cast log (or for small diameters from larger extruded bar) is located in a heated container, usually around 450 C - 500 C. At these temperatures the flow stress of the aluminium alloys is very low and by applying pressure by means of a ram to one end of the billet the metal flows through the steel die, located at the other end of the container to produce a section, the cross sectional shape of which is defined by the shape of the die (Figure 2).

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Aluminium - Extruded Products

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Figure 2: Extrusion principle

Aluminium sections for the automotive industry on an extrusion press run-out table

All aluminium alloys can be extruded but some are less suitable than others, requiring higher pressures, allowing only low extrusion speeds and/or having less than acceptable surface finish and section complexity. The term extrudability is used to embrace all of these issues with pure aluminium at one end of the scale and the strong aluminium/zinc/magnesium/copper alloys at the other end. The biggest share of the extrusion market is taken by the 6000, AlMgSi series. This group of alloys have an attractive combination of properties, relevant to both use and production and they have been subject to a great deal of R & D in many countries. The result is a set of materials ranging in strength from 150 Mpa to 350 Mpa, all with good toughness and formability. They can be extruded with ease and their overall extrudability is good but those containing the lower limits of magnesium and silicon e.g. 6060 and 6063 extrude at very high speeds - up to 100 m/min with good surface finish, anodising capability and maximum complexity of section shape combined with minimum section thickness Press load capacities range from a few hundred tonnes to as high as 20,000 tonnes although the majority range between 1,000 and 3,000 tonnes. Billet sizes cover the range from 50 mm diameter to 500 mm with length usually about 2-4 times the diameter and while most presses have cylindrical containers a few have rectangular ones for the production of wide shallow sections. The ease with which aluminium alloys can be extruded to complex shapes makes valid the claim that it allows the designer to "put metal exactly where it is needed", a requirement of particular importance with a relatively expensive material. Furthermore, this flexibility in design makes it easy, in most cases, to overcome the fact that aluminium and its alloys have only 1/3 the modulus of elasticity of steel (Figure 3). Since stiffness is dependent not only on modulus but also on section geometry it is possible, by deepening an aluminium beam by around 1,5 times the steel component it is intended to replace, to match the stiffness of the steel at half the weight. Also, at little added die cost, features can be introduced into the section shape which increase torsional stiffness and provide grooves for say fluid removal, service cables, anti-slip ridges etc. Such features in a steel beam would require joining and machining, thus adding to the cost and narrowing the gap between initial steel and aluminium costs.

Extruded product examples: Non-Competitive Show Figure 3: Designing extrusions with improved stiffness

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Aluminium - Extruded Products

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Aluminium - Rolled Products

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Aluminium - Rolled Products


Introduction Aluminium rolling mill

Rolled products, i.e. sheet, plate and foil constitute almost 50 % of all aluminium alloys used. In North America and Western Europe, the packaging industry consumes the majority of the sheet and foil for making beverage cans, foil containers and foil wrapping. Sheet is also used extensively in building for roofing and siding, in transport for airframes, road and rail vehicles, in marine applications, including offshore platforms, and superstructures and hulls of boats. Also, while relatively little is currently used in the manufacture of high volume production automobiles, it is expected that the next decade will see an increase of aluminium sheet used for body panels, a market that could easily match the approx. one million tons used for packaging in Western Europe in 1998. Plate is used for airframes, military vehicles and bridges, ship superstructures, cryogenic and chemical vessels and as tooling plate for the production of plastic products. Foil applications outside packaging include electrical equipment, insulation for buildings, lithographic plate and foil for heat exchangers. Process description The starting stock for most rolled products is the DC (Direct Chill semi-continuous cast) ingot. The size of the ingot depends on the size of the DC unit available, the hot rolling mill capacity, volume required for a particular end use and to some extent the alloys being cast. Ingots up to over 20 tons in weight, 500 - 600 mm thick, 2000 mm wide and 8000 mm long are produced. The DC ingot is usually cooled after casting to room temperature and then re-heated to around 500C prior to successive passes through a hot rolling mill where it is reduced in thickness to about 4 - 6 mm (see Figure 4). Figure 4: Hot-rolling principle

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Aluminium - Rolled Products

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The strip from the hot rolling mill is coiled for transport to the cold mill which might be on the same site or elsewhere. Cold mills, in a wide range of types and sizes are available; some are single stand, others 3 stands and some 5 stand (Figure 5). Cold rolling speeds vary but modern mills operate at exit speeds as high as 3000 m per minute and alloys may be cold rolled to thickness of around 0.05 mm. Figure 5: Cold-rolling principle

In the past 25 years much effort has been made by the aluminium industry and mill producers to ensure that cold rolled products have the specific characteristics required for satisfactory end use and that they can compete from a cost point of view with competitor materials. Properties such as strength, formability, toughness and corrosion resistance are controlled in the main by alloy choice, rolling deformation schedule and thermal treatments, before, during and after rolling. Other requirements such as surface finish, flatness and gauge uniformity have been achieved by careful attention to the mechanics and chemistry of the rolling process. This has been shown to be very important in the production of beverage cans and will play an increasing role in the manufacture of auto-body parts. In hot rolling a knowledge of the influence of the starting stock surface condition, surface condition of the rolls and lubrication used has been necessary, as have the effect of corresponding parameters in the cold mill with the full understanding of the effect of roll coatings, arcs of contact, etc., achieved by very detailed study. In many modern installations concerned with the high volume production, for instance in the canning industry, the very stringent flatness requirements are achieved by combinations of mill control and by the use of tension levellers (see Figure 6). Gauge control is achieved in much the same way as flatness, i.e. by continuously measuring outgoing strip thickness and adjusting the roll bite accordingly. Figure 6 : Automatic flatness control system

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Aluminium - Recycled

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Aluminium - Recycled
Aluminium has been recycled since the days it was first commercially produced and today recycled aluminium accounts for one-third of global aluminium consumption world-wide. Recycling is an essential part of the aluminium industry and makes sense economically, technically and ecologically. At the end of their useful life, all aluminium products retain some worth which guarantees that it is possible to create value by recycling them into new products. Efficiency of aluminium recycling thus translates into high recycling rates for the various applications. New and old Scrap Aluminium destined for recycling can be described with two categories: new and old scrap. New scrap is the surplus material that is discarded during the manufacturing and fabrication of aluminium alloys (e.g. the splinters of sheet edge trimmings). Most new scrap reaching the secondary industry comes directly from the manufacturing industry. It is usually of known quality and composition and often uncoated. It can therefore be melted down with little preparation. 100 % of the arising fabrication scrap is re melted by the aluminium industry. aluminium building scrap

aluminium automotive scrap

Old scrap is aluminium material that is recovered when an aluminium article has been produced, used and finally discarded at the end of its useful life. Such scrap could be e.g. used beverage cans, car cylinder heads, window frames from a demolished building or old electrical conductors. aluminium packaging scrap

Old scrap comes to the recyclers via a very efficient network of metal merchants who have the technology to recover aluminium from motor vehicles, household appliances, etc. This is often done using heavy equipment such as shredders, normally together with magnetic separators to remove iron, and sink-and-float installations to

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Aluminium - Recycled

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separate the aluminium from other materials. Processing of scrap Both types of scrap are processed prior to melting to get rid off any contamination that may be present. They are centrifuged and dried to remove the oil and water that may be present and then magnetically separated from any present iron. Used beverage cans are processed to remove the interior lacquer coating and the outside product display printing inks. The Products remelting and refining

The recycling of old scrap is normally carried out by secondary aluminium refiners, whereas new scrap is predominantly recycled through aluminium remelters. Secondary aluminium refiners convert most of their materials into foundry ingot, generally based on the aluminiumsilicon alloy system with additions of other metals such as copper and magnesium. These ingots, fabricated according to recognised national or international specifications, go into the manufacture of aluminium cast components. A significant share of the secondary aluminium refiners output is also delivered in a molten form by road tanker to large foundry users thus eliminating the need for further melting operations. Alloy hardeners are also produced. These ingots, with a high known percentage content of alloying metals, are used by other sectors of the aluminium industry such as primary smelter cast houses or re melt units located at semi-finished aluminium plants. The efficiency of aluminium recycling translates into high recycling rates for the various applications

In Europe, aluminium enjoys high recycling rates, ranging from 41 % in beverage cans to 85 % in building and construction and 95 % in transportation. Since the material can be recycled indefinitely without loss of quality, and because of the high intrinsic value, there are strong natural incentives to recover and recycle aluminium products after use. Comprehensive systems for the recovery of used aluminium now exist in all major European countries. The above figures represent a total annual production in Europe of 1.9 million tonnes of recycled aluminium. Thirty-two percent of European aluminium demand is satisfied by recycled material. A large majority of recycled aluminium is consumed by the transport sector. The other main markets are engineering, packaging and building. Reference : Web site http://www.eaa.net Back

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Aluminium - Castings

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Aluminium - Castings
Introduction Aluminium casting processes are classified as Ingot casting or Mould casting. During the first process, primary or secondary aluminium is cast into rolling ingot (slab), extrusion ingot (billet) and wire bar ingot which are subsequently transformed in semi- and finished products. The second process is used in the foundries for producing cast products. This is the oldest and simplest (in theory but not in practice) means of manufacturing shaped components. This section describes exclusively Mould casting which can be divided into two main groups: 1. Sand casting 2. Die casting Other techniques such as "lost foam" or "wax pattern" processes are also used but their economical importance is considerably lower than both listed techniques. Sand casting Figure 1: Half-moulf with cores

In sand casting, re-usable, permanent patterns are used to make the sand moulds. The preparation and the bonding of this sand mould are the critical step and very often are the rate-controlling step of this process. Two main routes are used for bonding the sand moulds: The "green sand" consists of mixtures of sand, clay and moisture. The "dry sand" consists of sand and synthetic binders cured thermally or chemically. The sand cores used for forming the inside shape of hollow parts of the casting are made using dry sand components. This versatile technique is generally used for high-volume production. An example of half sand mould is given in Figure 1. Normally, such moulds are filled by pouring the melted metal in the filling system. Moulds designing is a particularly complex art and is based on the same principle as gravity die casting illustrated in Figure 4. Figure 2 shows an example of a sand cast product: In the "low pressure" sand casting technique, the melted metal is forced to enter the mould by low pressure difference. This more complicated process allows the production of cast products with thinner wall thickness. Figure 2: air intake of a turbo-engine (sand casting)

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Aluminium - Castings

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Die casting In this technique, the mould is generally not destroyed at each cast but is permanent, being made of a metal such as cast iron or steel. There are a number of die casting processes, as summarised in Figure 4. High pressure die casting is the most widely used, representing about 50% of all light alloy casting production. Low pressure die casting currently accounts for about 20% of production and its use is increasing. Gravity die casting accounts for the rest, with the exception of a small but growing contribution from the recently introduced vacuum die casting and squeeze casting process. Figure 3: Classification of die casting processes

Gravity die casting A schematic view in Figure 4 shows the main parts constituting a classical mould for gravity die casting. Cores (inner parts of the mould) are generally made of bonded sand. Figure 4: Schematic view of the main components of a casting mould (gravity die casting)

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Aluminium - Castings

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Gravity die casting is suitable for mass production and for fully mechanised casting. High pressure die casting In this process, the liquid metal is injected at high speed and high pressure into a metal mould. A schematic view of high pressure die casting is given in Figure 5. Figure 5: Schematic view of a high pressure die casting machine.

This equipment consists of two vertical platens on which bolsters are located which hold the die halves. One platen is fixed and the other can move so that the die can be opened and closed. A measured amount of metal is poured into the shot sleeve and then introduced into the mould cavity using a hydraulically-driven piston. Once the metal has solidified, the die is opened and the casting removed. In this process, special precautions must be taken to avoid too many gas inclusions which cause blistering during subsequent heat-treatment or welding of the casting product. Both the machine and its dies are very expensive, and for this reason pressure die casting is economical only for high-volume production. Low-pressure die casting

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Aluminium - Castings

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As schematised in Figure 6, the die is filled from a pressurised crucible below, and pressures of up to 0.7 bar are usual. Low-pressure die casting is especially suited to the production of components that are symmetric about an axis of rotation. Light automotive wheels are normally manufactured by this technique. Figure 6: Schematic view of the low-pressure die casting process.

Vacuum die casting The principle is the same as low-pressure die casting. The pressure inside the die is decreased by a vacuum pump and the difference of pressure forces the liquid metal to enter the die. This transfer is less turbulent than by other casting techniques so that gas inclusions can be very limited. As a consequence, this new technique is specially aimed to components which can subsequently be heat-treated. Squeeze casting (or squeeze forming) As shown in Figure 7, liquid metal is introduced into an open die, just as in a closed die forging process. The dies are then closed. During the final stages of closure, the liquid is displaced into the further parts of the die. No great fluidity requirements are demanded of the liquid, since the displacements are small. Thus forging alloys, which generally have poor fluidities which normally precludes the casting route, can be cast by this process Figure 7: Squeeze casting principle

This technique is especially suited for making fiber-reinforced castings from fiber cake preform. Squeeze casting forces liquid aluminium to infiltrate the preform. In comparison with non-reinforced aluminium alloy, aluminium alloy matrix composites manufactured by this technique can double the fatigue strength at 300C. Hence, such reinforcements are commonly used at the edges of the piston head of a diesel engine where solicitations are particularly high.

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Aluminium - Castings

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Conclusions Aluminium castings are very powerful and versatile techniques for manufacturing semi- or finished products with intricate shapes. Those techniques are continuously improved and developed to satisfy the user needs and to penetrate new markets. Innovations are mainly oriented to the automobile sector which is the most important market for castings. This continual improvement and development will ensure that aluminium castings continue to play a vital role in this field. Reference Web Site: http://www.eaa.net Back

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How Aluminium is made

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How aluminium is made ?


Potlines Overview of a Pot

Aluminium production is a continuous process which extracts pure aluminium metal from alumina, the powdery white oxide of aluminium. The chemical equation for aluminium smelting is 2Al203 +3C = 4Al + 3C02. A "potline" is a long building or two buildings which contain a series of "pots", or large electrolytic cells, in which aluminium is made. Each pot is a large rectangular cell, lined with carbon blocks and insulating bricks. The "pots" are connected electrically in series so that direct electric current flows through one pot, then on to the next and so on, to the end of the line. Inside the pot, alumina is dissolved in a "bath" of molten cryolite (sodium aluminium fluoride) and other materials. As the electric current is passed through the bath it generates the heat to keep the bath molten and causes the alumina to separate into two constituent elements, aluminium and oxygen. A special feature of the pots is that they have been designed to allow alumina to be added to the pot from feed hoppers mounted above each pot. This means that the pot can be replenished with alumina without the pot hoods having to be opened, thus ensuring a highly effective collection of pot fumes. These fumes are drawn off and treated in a "dry scrubber" Each pot is fitted with a microprocessor (a small computer) which continuously monitors the pot to maintain optimum operation conditions. Each of the pot rooms has a number of special multi-purpose pot-tending machines used for tapping molten metal from the pot, for changing anodes, for replenishing alumina feed hoppers and other production operations. For every tonne of aluminium produced a smelter consumes approximately two tonnes of alumina and half a tonne of carbon products. Molten aluminium formed in the pots is syphoned off, taken to holding furnaces, tested and then poured into various casting machines.

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How Aluminium is made

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Cast house Molten metal is carried from the potline to the Cast house in transport ladles on specially designed vehicles.

Overhead cranes are used to lift the ten tonne ladles and pour the molten aluminium into holding furnaces where it is mixed with specific amounts of alloy materials to produce special qualities and strength according to customer requirements. This alloyed aluminium is poured from the furnaces into continuous and semi-continuous casting machines which produce 22kg Gautschi and 25kg Brochot mould ingots, tee ingots, rectangular slabs and circular extrusion billets. Electrodes Carbon anodes, made from petroleum coke and pitch, are manufactured on site in the Electrode Department. They are used to conduct electricity into the smelting cells/pots in the pot room. Anodes are consumed in the smelting process and the remaining portions (known as butts) are recycled. Anode blocks are baked in a natural gas fired baking

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How Aluminium is made

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furnace for several weeks. Petroleum coke is crushed, mixed with liquid pitch and vibrated into a rectangular block weighing approx. 1250kg. These anode blocks are baked in a natural gas fired baking furnace for several weeks. Anodes are attached to rods and suspended into the electrolytic cells in the pot room. where they are slowly consumed in the aluminium process. They are replaced on a rotating schedule about every three weeks.

Reference Web site: http://www.tomago.com.au Back

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Aluminum Flow-Sheet

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Aluminum Flow-Sheet

The Production of Aluminum The figure shown below schematically describes Aluminum Production. Aluminum is produced from alumina by an electrolytic process that uses large quantities of electrical energy to separate aluminum from oxygen in the alumina. For this process, a modern smelter requires about 13,500 (DC) kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce one tonne of aluminum.

In nature, aluminum is never found in its metallic state but is a common constituent of many minerals where it is normally combined with silicon and oxygen. Bauxite is the only ore from which aluminum can be economically retrieved.

1. Aluminum Chemical Process

Al Chemical Process The first step in Aluminum Production is to mix crushed bauxite in a solution of hot caustic soda in digesters. This allows the alumina hydrate to be dissolved from the ore. After the red mud residue is removed by decantation and filtration, the caustic solution is piped into huge tanks, called precipitators, where the alumina hydrate crystallizes. The hydrate is then filtered and sent to calciners to dry and, under very high temperature, is transformed into the fine, white powder known as alumina. The alumina is transferred to the Electrolytic Process for aluminum reduction.

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Aluminum Flow-Sheet

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2. Aluminum Electrolytic Process

Al Electrolytic Process Alumina is a compound of aluminum and oxygen. To obtain metal from the alumina, these elements must be separated by electricity in the smelting process. This reaction takes place in large, carbon-lined steel cells, or pots, through which a direct electrical current is passed.

Molten Aluminum The bottom of each pot acts as a cathode, or negative electrode. Carbon blocks are suspended in the pot to serve as an anode, or positive electrode. Inside the pot, alumina is dissolved in a molten electrolyte, composed mainly of the mineral cryolite. The electrical current passing from the anode to the cathode causes the oxygen in the mixture to react with the carbon anode to form carbon dioxide, while the aluminum settles to the bottom of the pot to be siphoned off to Casting and Fabricating.

3. Aluminum Casting & Fabrication

Al Casting & Fabricating Before casting into ingot for fabricating, the molten aluminum is treated to ensure cleanliness and purity. Alloying ingredients are usually added to increase strength or provide special properties. Traditionally, the metal is then cast into ingots of various shapes, sizes and compositions for a number of uses.

Aluminum Ignot

Ingots are converted by Alcan or its customers into sheet, plate or foil products, as well as extruded shapes for engineering and architectural applications. Value-added foundry alloy ingots for shape castings and unalloyed ingots for remelting are sold mainly to third parties.

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Aluminum Flow-Sheet

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Reference: Web Site http://www.metsoc.org/ Back

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Aluminum - Production and Transformation

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Aluminum - Production and Transformation


From Bauxite Aluminium is the earth's most abundant metallic element, making up approximately eight per cent of the planet's crust. While aluminium never occurs naturally in its pure form, it is commonly found in the form of oxides. The most commercially viable source of aluminium is bauxite, which is predominantly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Bauxite can be found as granules or rocks and it can vary in color, depending on its exact composition. While the ore is generally easy to mine, the process to extract the aluminium from the bauxite is quite complex. The process of making metallic aluminium is carried out in two successive stages: a chemical process to extract alumina or anhydrous aluminium oxide (A12O3) from the bauxite, and an electrolytic process to reduce the alumina to aluminium. To Alumina

The bauxite, which contains about 75 per cent hydrated alumina (A12O3 3H2O and A12O3 H2O) is crushed and grounded into a powder and mixed with a solution of caustic soda. 1. This paste is mixed with further amounts of caustic soda solution in autoclaves or digesters. 2. There, under pressure and at a high temperature, the caustic soda combines with the hydrated alumina to leave a solution called sodium aluminate. Any impurities remain as undissolved residue. 2NaOH + bauxite --- > Na2OAl2O3 + 4H2O + residues The residue or "red mud", mainly the oxides of iron, silicon and titanium, is removed by sedimentation and filtration. 3. 4. The inert red mud is washed to recover the chemicals and is disposed of by a "wet stacking" technique over a specially prepared land area. The sodium aluminate solution is then pumped into precipitator tanks where very fine and pure alumina trihydrate is added as "seed". Under agitation and with gradual cooling the alumina trihydrate contained in the solution precipitates on the "seed". 5. The trihydrate solids are then separated from the caustic soda solution by settling and vacuum filtering. The caustic soda solution is recovered and returned to the start of the process to be reused in autoclaves. The trihydrate solids are then passed through high-temperature (900-1100 C) calciners that extract the chemically combined water that they contain. 6. Al2O3 3H2O + heat -- > Al2O3+ 3H2O ^ The aluminium oxide (Al2O3) that results is a white powder, like table salt in appearance, known as calcined alumina. Four to five tonnes of bauxite are required to produce approximately two tonnes of alumina which, in turn, yield one tonne of aluminium.

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Aluminum - Production and Transformation

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On to Aluminium Electrolysis is the transformation of alumina into aluminium. An aluminium smelter comprises three main sectors: Carbon, Potlines and Casthouse. CARBON SECTOR This is where anodes are produced. Anodes are designed to be hung over electrolytic pots to carry the required electrical current. These anodes are a mixture of coke and petroleum pitch. Coke is crushed to a very precise granulometry, mixed with pitch to form a paste which is molded in vibro-compactors to produce raw anodes or "green" anodes. Raw anodes are then transferred to gas or oil-fired furnaces where they are baked for several days at high temperature (1100 C). Once baked, anodes are rodded, that is attached to aluminium stems from which they will hang over electrolytic pots. Anodes burn and must be replaced about every twenty days; the carbon sector is also responsible for the recovery of carbon content in spent anodes (or butts) for recycling as well as for the cleanup of stems which will be reused. The smoke given off by the anode baking process is thoroughly treated in highly sophisticated systems. Production:

POTLINES Aluminium is obtained from alumina by electrolytic reduction - a chemical term meaning the removal of oxygen atoms from aluminium oxide. The calcined alumina is reduced to aluminium metal in electrolytic cells, or "pots", connected in series to a direct current power source. The cells are rectangular steel pots lined with refractory bricks and carbon blocks acting as the cathode. The pot contains a molten electrolyte, called "bath" in which alumina is dissolved. The electrolyte is a mixture of

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Aluminum - Production and Transformation

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cryolite (Na3AlF6), a molten salt, and certain additives to give it appropriate density, conductivity and viscosity. The principal additive is aluminium fluoride (AlF3) which must be replaced from time to time due to losses through evaporation and a chemical reaction converting it into more cryolite. The emitted fluorides are collected and treated. Suspended in the electrolyte are a number of anodes (positive electrodes) which act as electrical conductors for a high intensity direct current. Electrical current passing from the anode through the electrolyte to the pot, which acts as a cathode, reduces the alumina molecules into aluminium and oxygen at a temperature of approximately 950C. This process is called electrolysis. The oxygen is released on the carbon anode, where it combines with the carbon to form carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide (CO and CO2). The aluminium, being heavier than the bath, settles to the bottom of the pot. Considerable electrical energy, between 13 and 17 kilowatt-hours per kilogram of aluminium, is consumed in the process. Each pot is tightly closed to achieve greater energy efficiency and to capture the pollutants emitted; gas treatment centers provide a very effective environmental protection. At regular intervals, the molten aluminium is tapped from the bottom of the pot into large laddles and transferred to holding furnaces for casting. CASTHOUSE Molten metal from potlines is transferred to huge holding furnaces with a capacity of up to 60 tonnes, where it is refined and optionally mixed with metal additives to produce aluminium alloys. While aluminium is sometimes used as is in its commercially pure form, most applications involve the addition of small quantities of other metals to create alloys with special properties. Certain alloying elements will increase strength or corrosion resistance, while others enhance such properties as machinability, ductility, weldability and strength at high temperature. Recyclable aluminium beverage cans, for example, are made from an alloy containing manganese and magnesium that provide strength and formability. Magnesium is added to aluminium to create an alloy that provides the added strength required for the can top. Alloys containing magnesium and silicon are very corrosion-resistant and suitable for use in window frames, doors and pleasure boats. Copper and zinc are added to produce alloys of the highest strength, while chromium, manganese or titanium are added for grain-size control. Recent research with metal matrix composite, a combination of aluminium and ceramic particles, promises stronger materials that are more cost-effective, stiffer and provide better resistance to wear. Aircraft components are made from high-strength alloys containing copper, magnesium, silicon and zinc as the principal alloying elements. The aerospace industry employs the new aluminium-lithium alloys which provide significant weight savings over alloys of similar strength. Aluminium-magnesium-silicon alloys are used in architectural applications where pleasing, corrosion-resistant surface finishes are required. Automotive castings, strong and machinable, are made from aluminium-copper-silicon alloys. Once the exact content of the molten aluminium has been analyzed, it is either cast into ingots, slabs or billets using the DC casting (direct chill) method, or cast directly into semi-finished products.Aluminium is cast into shapes that vary depending upon the type of equipment that will be used to process the metal. For example, very large ingots of rectangular shape, also called slabs, are intended for hot-rolling to produce plate, sheet and foil. Cylindrical ingots, also called billets, are for extrusion while metal for remelting can be cast into large blocks called sows, as well as tri-lock shapes or T-ingots, depending upon the shape. Each ingot can weigh up to 25 tonnes. Transformation ROLLING The process of flattening the ingot or slab is carried out by either hot- or cold-rolling the metal. In hot-rolling, the ingot is preheated so as to soften and/or homogenize it, and is then passed back and forth through massive rolls that reduce the ingot's thickness while increasing its length. The width remains unchanged. Hot-rolling improves the metallurgical qualities of the metal without appreciable work-hardening. Subsequent cold-rolling gives the strength characteristics that result from work-hardening, and the metal can be rolled to tighter dimensional tolerances.

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Aluminum - Production and Transformation

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Plate, which is hot-rolled, is 6.30 millimeters or more in thickness, while sheet, which is hot-and-cold-rolled, varies in thickness from 6.30 down to 0.15 millimeters. Foil is also cold-rolled to gauges below 6 microns. A continuous length of foil, 450 kilometers long, could be rolled from a single slab. The aluminium beverage can market is the primary end-user for aluminium sheet. EXTRUDING The extrusion process consists of pushing a pre-heated cylindrical aluminium ingot through a steel die. The ingot is formed into a continuous length of uniform cross-section by forced flow through the steel die. The outline of the die opening is reproduced in the extruded aluminium in much the same way as decorative icing is forced from a pastry pouch. Extruded tubing and hollow shapes are formed by placing a steel mandrel inside the die opening. The aluminium is forced to flow between the mandrel and the die, reproducing the shape of the mandrel on the inside of the section and the shape of the die on the outside. Extruded tubing is used in the manufacture of such items as doors, window frames, building wall cladding, highway lighting standards and garden furniture. Larger extrusions are also used in the manufacture of railcars, truck trailers, aircraft and ship super-structures. OTHER METHODS Aluminium may be cast into various shapes by pouring molten metal into molds. The methods used are die casting, permanent mold casting or sand casting. Forging - In this process, the desired part is formed in a confined die from a hot metal slug. This is achieved by applying force which causes the metal to flow and fill the die cavity. Drawing - All aluminium wire and some tubing and rod products are manufactured by a cold-rolling process called drawing; a starter stock is pulled through a die in which it is both shaped and reduced. In the production of tubing, lengths of extruded, thick-walled tube are drawn through progressively smaller dies until reduced to the desired diameter. Impacting - Also known as impact extruding, impacting is a combination of both extruding and forging. A disc-shaped slug of metal is placed in a die and struck by a punch; part of it is forged into a base, flange or hub, and the remainder is extruded upwards, downwards or sideways from the forged section. Anodizing - Aluminium, particularly when intended for architectural purposes, may be anodized. Anodizing is an electro-chemical process whereby the natural oxide film on aluminium is thickened by passing an electric current through certain acid electrolytes with the aluminium part as the anode. Anodizing also provides a means of coloring the metal with dyes. This process also increases aluminium's hardness and corrosion resistance. Reference: Web Site http://aac.aluminium.qc.ca Back

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11/10/2013 10:57

The making of Aluminum

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The making of Aluminum

PHASE ONE: EXTRACTING ALUMINA, the base material for making aluminium: 1. Bauxite, the mineral that contains alumina, is first ground in giant crushers. 2. Once powdered, bauxite is mixed in autoclaves with a solution of caustic soda, which is used to dissolve aluminium oxide while impurities remain in a solid state. 3. Impurities are separated from the aluminate solution through scrubbing and filtration under pressure with the red mud residue discarded. 4. The resulting solution is pumped into precipitator tanks, which are 25 to 30 meters high, and in which pure alumina trihydrate is added as seed material. As the solution cools down more trihydrate crystals are formed. 5. To be separated from caustic soda the crystals are precipitated and the rest of the solution is filtered with caustic soda before returning to the autoclaves to be reused. 6. Finally, the collected crystals are calcinated in long rotating furnaces where a temperature of approximately 1,000 o C removes all the water from the crystals. 7. What remains of the process is calcined alumina, a kind of white powder not unlike table salt, which will be later transformed in aluminium metal. PHASE TWO: CONVERTING ALUMINA INTO ALUMINIUM: 1. Aluminium is extracted from alumina through an electrolytic reduction process (known as the Hall-Hroult process, named after its inventors), which takes place in pots through which flows a high-amperage direct current. Each rectangular steel shelled pot is lined with refractory bricks and carbon blocks acting as the cathode. 2. Anodes, made from petroleum coke and liquid pitch mixed into a paste and then baked for several days at a temperature of approximately 1,100 o C to be hardened, are hung over the pots in which a molten electrolyte dissolves the supplied alumina. 3. In the electrolytic bath, the current passes from the anode to the cathode (i.e. the pot itself) and, at a temperature of approximately 950 o C, reduces (i.e. breaks up) alumina molecules into aluminium and oxygen (its true, aluminium smelters actually do make oxygen!). 4. Molten aluminium settles at the bottom of the pot from where, at regular intervals, it is tapped into giant ladles and transferred to holding furnaces. 5. It is in these furnaces containing up to 90 tonnes of molten aluminium that the metal is further refined and optionally mixed with metal additives to produce aluminium alloys. 6. From there, the metal is cast to produce ingots, billets and slabs. Alternatively, the metal may be cast into

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11/10/2013 10:58

The making of Aluminum

http://www.emt-india.net/process/aluminium/The making of aluminum.htm

semi-finished products . ELECTRICAL POWER: The electrolysis process used to produce aluminium requires large quantities of electrical power. When the cost of producing one tonne of primary aluminium is broken down almost one third is devoted to electrical power. This forces the industry to strive to use each kilowatt to its full potential. In fact, among all industrial activities, it is the aluminium industry that is achieving the best utilization factor in the use of this precious resource. Furthermore, when one considers that each small gain in energy consumption quickly impacts on costs, all producers have implemented energy efficiency programs that yield excellent results. With this in mind, the quantity of energy required to produce primary aluminium has been cut by 30% over the past 35 years. At the end of the journey, this process gives us this metal, literally an "energy bar" which, like a giant horn of plenty, provides so many consumer goods of all shapes and sizes. Reference: Web Site http://aac.aluminium.qc.ca Back

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11/10/2013 10:58

Aluminium Industry

http://www.emt-india.net/process/aluminium/APT.htm

Aluminium Process Technologies


Aluminium is the only material that offers a unique combination of properties not to be found in other materials. It has played a key role, particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries, owing to its low density, high strength yet excellent formability, good corrosion resistance and weldability. In addition to a long list of very attractive characteristics which are responsible for the popularity aluminium has enjoyed as a structural material in various applications, its non-toxicity and recyclability have made aluminium the number one packaging material for food and beverages of all kinds. These very attractive characteristics of aluminium are fully exploited in Turkey in a number of growing markets ranging from the building and transportation to flexible packaging industries. However, in spite of a steadily increasing demand in the past several years, Turkey's per-capita aluminium consumption is still far below that of the industrialized countries and is therefore expected to increase substantially over the next five to ten years. It is thus fair to conclude that aluminium is going to be demanded, produced and traded more and more in Turkey in the near future. Research on various aspects of the aluminium metallurgy thus constitutes one of the major activities OF THE Aluminum Processing Group. Aluminium Processing Group is engaged in a number of activities all of which are performed within the framework of contract-base research projects: R&D for the processing of aluminum sheet, foil and extrusion profiles. Optimization of rafination practices for aluminum foundries. Characterization of fluxes, grain refiners and master alloys and other consumables for aluminum foundries. Process development for the manufacture of cast composites. R&D and consulting for the recycling of aluminum scrap. Rapid solidification processing of aluminum alloys. Aluminum Processing Group has undertaken over the past several years, 6 process R&D projects for ASSAN Aluminium, the leading aluminium company who employs the latest of the strip casting technology to produce a range of aluminium sheet and foil products. These projects were undertaken to develop down stream processing cycles for thin-gauge, high-speed cast aluminum strips. They were completed to the satisfaction of our client and a 2-year contract for a new project which will last until the end of 2004 was recently signed with ASSAN. The group has recently completed a contract-research project for SARAY Aluminium, which was undertaken to improve the extrusion process with a special emphasis on the profile quality and is thus able to offer R&D services to the extrusion plants. In addition to these projects, we have devoted our efforts in the past several years, within the framework of a EUREKA project (E!1824 FINSTOCK) and in close cooperation with ASSAN and FRITERM, to the development of aluminium finstock with improved formability and quality to meet the ever increasing demands of the fin producers. The Research Institute for Metals and HZB of Czech Republic have also participated in this research program. ASSAN has become the major supplier of finstock in the domestic market following the successful completion of this program. We've developed a great deal of expertise in the field of secondary aluminium processing in the course of these projects. The group is engaged in R&D activities within the framework of an another Eureka Project (E!2530 CONTCASTALTRANS) towards the implementation of the Twin-Roll Casting Technology for the manufacture of aluminum sheet for structural automotive applications. Reference : Web Site http://www.mam.gov.tr Back

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11/10/2013 11:05

Reduction Process

http://www.emt-india.net/process/aluminium/RP.htm

Optimising the reduction process in an aluminium plant


Summary Aluminerie Lauralco Inc., a primary aluminium plant located near Quebec, aims to make the best possible use of energy resources. During the initial operation period, the staff began to optimise the current efficiency of the reduction process, which resulted in reduced energy consumption. Further efforts included measures to reduce anode effects and lower fluorocarbon emissions. The company has also set up an energy committee to focus on continuing efforts to further reduce the plant's energy consumption and lower fluorocarbon emissions.

Highlights Achieves a high current efficiency of over 96% Reduces energy consumption to below 13,000 kWh/t of aluminium Reduces anode effects and fluorocarbon Aim of the Project Aluminerie Lauralco Inc. opened the primary aluminium plant in 1992 and work closely with staff to constantly refine the process by improving the current efficiency of the reduction process and reduce the anode effects. The Principle Electricity is the main energy source of this primary aluminium plant. Used widely for the reduction process, power is supplied at 315 kV and redistributed throughout the plant at 69 and 25 kV, after going through two large 450 MVA transformers. A continuous power output of over 350 MW is required to achieve the annual production of aluminium. Natural gas is used as a source of thermal energy. From 1992 to 1995, the start-up and initial period, staff were mainly concerned with optimising plant operation, and were not able to concentrate on reducing the energy consumed by the aluminium process. However, the first three years of operation saw the successful completion of a vital energy optimisation project and the reduction of fluorocarbon emissions. Figure : An anode used in the electrolytic process.

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11/10/2013 11:05

Reduction Process

http://www.emt-india.net/process/aluminium/RP.htm

The Situation The first major energy-saving project was to improve the current efficiency of the reduction process. It began during the initial period of consolidating productivity in 1993, and is still ongoing. The reduction process is at the heart of the primary aluminium plant - this is where the main raw material, alumina, is transformed into aluminium. At this particular plant, 264 electrolytic pots (model AP-30 made by Pechiney) achieve this using a very modern technology. The power (315 kA at 69 kV) is used in series through the solution of dissolved alumina in each pot. The molten aluminium is then drawn off under a vacuum at regular intervals, and moved to the handling crucibles. This process uses over 90% of the electrical power consumed by the plant. The current efficiency is one of the reference indexes for the energy performance of the electrolytic process. It is calculated as the ratio of the theoretical electrical power to actual electrical power consumed by the reduction process. Increasing the current efficiency therefore improves energy consumption. During the start-up period it was not possible to achieve the performance predicted by the technology supplier. In view of the importance of this element for productivity and energy consumption, two improvements were made. The first was to optimise the operational parameters of the process, such as the percentage of fluorine, solution, feed rates, ventilation rates, etc. This was carried out in 1993-94, giving results that were useful but not enough to achieve the required efficiency objective. The second improvement was made in early 1995 and involved physical modification of the 264 electrolytic pots. At a rate of two pots per week, the modifications were completed in 1997. Despite this major investment, the project is expected to become cost-effective within three years, and will result in a 5% increase in production capacity. These improvements generate annual energy savings of around 500 GWh, giving a Faraday efficiency of 96.2%, which reduces the energy consumption to below 13,000 kWh/t of aluminium. A second major project concerns measures to reduce the anode effects of the process. These are 'inefficiencies' in the electrical current passing through the solution in the pot during electrolysis. This can be caused by poor positioning of the anodes, or irregular wear (e.g. cavities), and result in an abnormal increase in the temperature of the solution and the anodes, plus increased production of fluorocarbons. This in turn leads to significant energy losses, as well as emitting gases that are harmful to the ozone layer. Reducing anode effects is another way to improve the current efficiency of the reduction process. The company already has an international reputation for operational performance in terms of anode effects, which have been reduced to 0.26/pot/ day. However, the company has now identified new measures to reduce anode effects even further. In early 1996, the company set up an internal energy committee to continually reduce the plant's energy consumption and lower emissions of carbon dioxide and fluorocarbons (CF4 and C2F6).

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11/10/2013 11:05

Reduction Process

http://www.emt-india.net/process/aluminium/RP.htm

The Company Aluminerie Lauralco Inc. is a subsidiary of Alcoa. The plant is located 80 km west of Quebec along the north shore of the St Lawrence River. It produces 230,000 tons of aluminium per year in the form of T-ingots, each weighing 5.5 tons, using a semi-continuous vertical casting process. Over 560 staff are employed at the plant. Economics The physical modification of the electrolytic pots required an investment of around CAD 60 million, including modifications to the peripheral equipment (crucibles, traveling cranes, mobile equipment etc.). Despite this, the project is expected to become cost-effective within three years. Reference: Web Sitehttp://oee.nrcan.gc.ca Back

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11/10/2013 11:05