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Rusal Launches RA-550 Pilot Plant

Rusal RA-550

UC Rusal launched a pilot operation with eight new-generation RA-550 pots at its Sayanogorsk (SAZ) aluminum smelter. The US$30 million pilot is the result of three years of technology development within the company’s Technical Directorate.

“The successful launch of the RA-550 technology is a true breakthrough event for Rusal,” said Victor Mann, technical director of Rusal. “Its distinctive feature is lower electricity consumption and the best environmental indicators among all companies of the industry.”

The RA-550 technology consumes 10-15% less electricity versus pots of previous generations. The cells have also become lighter, more compact (around 19 m long), and more environmentally efficient. The cells have six side riser busbars and 24 anodes. RA-550 applies a number of innovative engineering solutions, including:

  • A new busbar design with two-side current supply that ensures a symmetrical magnetic field and high MHD stability without using a compensating loop
  • A modular busbar principle that lifts restrictions for creating higher capacity pots
  • Maximization of metal production per unit of area, allowing for a dense arrangement of cells in the potroom, due to a new pot width standard
  • Lower material consumption of all elements of the cell (cathode shell, superstructure, lining, anode rod assembly, etc.)
  • Lower fume exhaust volumes, while improving the technology’s environmental indicators

The RA-550 busbar design at the current operating levels of the pilot cells (energy consumption per cell ~11,900 kWh/t) can significantly reduce voltage without increasing the noise level. In the long run, this innovation will make it possible to reduce energy consumption to less than 11,500 kWh/t per cell and achieve total energy consumption of about 12,000 kWh/t.

Barry J. Welch, professor at the Auckland University, New Zealand, provided an independent expert appraisal of the design, technology. and pot maintenance methods on the pilot RA-550 site at SAZ. “The RA-550 project development period and its implementation, as well as operational maintenance meet the current world standards,” said Welch. “As early as at this stage, the RA-550 technology can be recommended for implementation at new smelters with the amperage of 525 kA confirmed at the prototypes.”

According to the designed capacity, a RA-550 pot will produce 4.21 tonnes of aluminum per day — almost twice the level of the RA-300 technology applied at the company’s Khakas and Boguchany smelters. “Given the competitiveness of this project and its parameters, this technology can be implemented both during upgrading of the existing smelters of the company and when constructing new facilities,” said Mann.

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