EGA to further reduce PFC emissions after record low in 2017

Controlling emissions of PFCs, a group of greenhouse gases, is a global aluminium industry goal

EGAs PFC emissions in 2017 were 22kg CO2 equivalent /tonne of aluminium produced, compared to global average of 380kg CO2 equivalent /tonne in 2016. [Representation image]
EGAs PFC emissions in 2017 were 22kg CO2 equivalent /tonne of aluminium produced, compared to global average of 380kg CO2 equivalent /tonne in 2016. [Representation image]

Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) has signed an agreement with the University of New South Wales for continued research on the reduction of perfluorocarbons emissions, after the company achieved a record low in 2017. 

Perfluorocarbons, known as PFCs, are a group of greenhouse gases which have thousands of times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Reducing PFC emissions is an important environmental goal of the global aluminium industry.

EGA’s emissions of PFCs were 22 kilogrammes per tonne of aluminium produced in 2017 compared to a global average of 380 kilogrames per tonne in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available from the International Aluminium Institute.

At EGA’s newer Al Taweelah smelter, PFC emissions in 2017 were seven kilogrammes per tonne of aluminium produced.

In the aluminium industry, reported PFC emissions are known to be associated with momentary process imbalances known as Anode Effects.

These occur when the alumina concentration falls in the reduction cells in which aluminium is smelted.

EGA is set to conduct new research with scientists from the University of New South Wales aiming to reduce what the industry terms ‘background’ PFC emissions – those that are from variations in reduction cell conditions that are too small to be detected and remedied by the control technology available today.

The research will focus on developing sophisticated technology to continuously monitor conditions inside reduction cells in great detail and semi-autonomously feed alumina in response to minute changes.

More accurate feeding of alumina in response to changing conditions is also expected to lower energy consumption, reducing emissions of CO2 created through power generation.

EGA’s work to reduce PFC emissions is led by executive vice president Dr Ali Al Zarouni, who is in charge of the company’s aluminium smelters in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and EGA’s technology development.

Dr Al Zarouni said: “Reducing PFC emissions in the aluminium industry is a matter of fundamental environmental responsibility.  Unfortunately no single factor provides the solution. Rather we have achieved our reductions through developing our own smelting and pot control technology, continuously improving our operational processes, and rigorously monitoring the quality of our raw materials.

“We believe our new research is the first of its kind as it aims to tackle emissions from minute changes rather than just reducing Anode Effects that we can all detect today.  Working with the University of New South Wales enables us to combine our own technology expertise with the latest academic thinking to tackle this particularly difficult challenge.”

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