May 17, 2020

New Technology Helps to Eliminate Mining Wastewater by 90 Percent

Australia
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research O
Australia
Admin
2 min
New Technology Helps to Eliminate Mining Wastewater by 90 Percent
Researchers from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have developed a new technology that can effectively treat mining...

Researchers from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have developed a new technology that can effectively treat mining wastewater and reduce sludge by up to 90 percent.  

The new technology, known as ‘Virtual Curtain’, relies on the formation of compounds in wastewater called hydrotalicities to clean itself. The curtain reduces the sludge, a semi-solid by-product of wastewater treatment by up to 90 percent.

“Our treatment produced only a fraction of the sludge that a conventional lime-based method would have and allowed the mine water to be treated in a more environmentally sound way,” CSIRO scientist Dr. Grant Douglas said.

Hydrotalicities are layered crystal structures of carbonates, magnesium, and aluminum that trap impurities within themselves. As the crystals form, numerous waste substances become trapped, helping to separate out the sludge in wastewater.

Dr. Grant Douglas and his team have successfully tested the Virtual Curtain technology at a Queensland mine where it was used to remove metal contaminants from mining wastewater.

“Reducing the amount of sludge is beneficial because the costly and timely steps involved to move and dispose it can be reduced,” he said.

"If required, the treated water can be purified much more efficiently via reverse osmosis and either released to the environment or recycled back into the plant, so it has huge benefits for mining operators in arid regions such as Australia and Chile," Douglas added.

The new technology can also produce a material high in metal value, which can be reprocessed to increase a mining company’s overall recovery rate and partially offset treatment costs.

"It is a more efficient and economic way to treat wastewater and is enabling the global mining industry to reduce its environmental footprint and extract wealth from waste."

The Australian mining industry is estimated to generate hundreds of millions of tons of wastewater each year.

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
ELYSIS
Decarbonisation
Alcoa
3 min
ELYSIS
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.

 

Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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