New pot design could deliver $10m in annual savings

One of the most significant costs in the manufacture of aluminium is power.

Reducing use of electricity in the production of aluminium remains a key challenge at TAC and there are a number of significant power-saving projects underway helping to deliver a sustainable solution to escalating costs.

One of the largest and most important of these projects is the Pacific Aluminium Low Energy Pot (PA-LE) pot, designed by the Pacific Technology Centre (PTC).  Successful generalisation of the design is expected to deliver savings of up to $10 million annually.
The materials used in the construction of PA-LE pots enables the cell to operate using much less energy and without compromising anode cathode distance (ACD), therefore maintaining excellent metal production performance. The new design also ensures the pot can operate in a broader amperage range (245kA to 260kA), with the flexibility to accommodate market conditions and business needs by running at a low ACD.

Booster engineer Darryl Frew said the early stages of the project were challenging, and highlighted several opportunities for improvement around the new pot work.

“Our people have responded to the challenge and we have now set the benchmark in the Pacific Aluminium group for pot pre-heat, start-up and early life control,” Darryl said.

“PA-LE 1.2 is the third iteration of the design and a strong collaboration with PTC allowed us to respond quickly and implement key design changes to address issues with heat balance and insufficient power savings.

“We currently have 12 PA-LE 1.2 pots, with an additional 50 pots to be installed this year.”

Business Improvement Leader Michelle Whyte said early indications were promising, with all predicted power savings now being realised on these 12 pots.

“Successful generalisation of this pot design could deliver a saving of approximately $10 million per annum, however we need to validate metal production and thermal balance,’ Michelle said.

“Thermal measurement campaigns are being completed along the way in March, May and September, followed by the final design assessment at the end of the year.

“Between now and September our Potline Early Life Controllers, in consultation with Room Controllers and Process Supervisors, are providing additional follow up for the PA-LE project.”

Specific checks and investigations performed each shift are ensuring a rapid response to exceptions, accurate data for design assessment and an accumulation of knowledge and strategies for successful operation of this pot design.

Electrolysis Process Superintendent Greg Kinniard said he expected Tomago Aluminium would be in a strong position to evaluate the most effective future pot design for Tomago by September this year.

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