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UC Rusal Launches New Generation Aluminum Electrolysis Pot Cell

Sayanogorsk aluminum smelter. (Source: UC Rusal.)

UC Rusal launched the first RA-550 pot, which is running at over 550 kA, at the Sayanogorsk aluminum smelter (SAZ) as part of a US$28 million project.

“RA-550 is a reduction cell with a breakthrough design for future smelters and upgrade projects at Rusal’s existing smelting capacities,” said Victor Mann, Rusal’s technical director. “Alongside the technical and process standards, it is a compulsory requirement for any modern production facility to comply with health and safety standards and to minimize hazardous emissions into the atmosphere. So all technological processes involving RA-550 cells are supported by the most advanced process control systems.”

A key benefit of the new cell technology is improved energy efficiency. A RA-550 cell consumes around 12 kWh/kg of aluminum, which is 10-15% less than previous generations. According to design documents, one pot will produce 4.21 tonnes of aluminum per day, which is about twice as much as the daily output of a RA-300 pot currently used at SAZ.

Development of the RA-550 technology began two years ago, and the start-up marks an important milestone for the company. The project involved state financing from the Industry Development Fund and the Ministry of Education and Science. Among the key contractors was Russian Engineering Company, which manufactured and installed cathode shells and busbar and also set-up the pilot area.

“The physical launch of RA-550 is genuinely a technical and engineering breakthrough,” said Mann. “The start-up of this first pot confirms that with new technical solutions we managed to eliminate the previously existing limitations to continue increasing the pot amperage to beyond 1 MA. Also, their smaller size means we can install eight RA-550 pots within an area where only seven S-255 pots fitted in.”

Rusal has plans to use RA-550 for the modernization of current facilities as well as for new smelters’ construction in the future. Design and technical improvements made RA-550 lighter, more compact and more environmentally efficient. In particular, the exhaust gas treatment efficiency will reach 99%, and pot tending will be automated wherever possible.

Before the end of the year, four more RA-550 pots will be started up at the pilot area at SAZ, followed by three pots in 2017.



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