This refining process generates bauxite residue as a byproduct. To produce 1 kg of aluminium, it requires 2 kg of alumina, which consumes 6 kg of bauxite, leaving behind 4 kg of bauxite residue. Managing this voluminous by-product sustainably has been a long-standing industry challenge. DC Image
Bhubaneswar: Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest aluminium producer which has got two plants - a refinery and smelter unit - in Odisha; on Monday announced the development of a groundbreaking process to significantly reduce the generation of bauxite residue, commonly known as red mud in the alumina refining process.
The process reduces bauxite residue by a remarkable 30 per cent by eliminating iron values while simultaneously recovering a higher alumina yield, reducing the total organic content from bauxite during the alumina refining. The process significantly enhances resource efficiency and curbs energy consumption during refining.
The research project was led by the company’s research and development (R&D) department in collaboration with the department of metallurgical and materials engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT KGP), with special support from the Lanjigarh, Odisha unit, home to Vedanta’s world-class alumina refinery.
This cutting-edge development, as claimed by the company, will enhance its operational excellence and have a sustainable impact on the global aluminium industry.
On the breakthrough, Mr. GG Pal, Dy. CEO – Alumina Business, Vedanta Ltd., said,"At Vedanta Aluminium, operational efficiency is of paramount importance for us in achieving sustainability. Toward this goal, we are aggressively focusing on our in-house R&D initiatives to drive tech-led innovative solutions to address existing industry problems."
Sharing his thoughts on the development, Dr Amit Chatterjee, chief research and development officer, Aluminium Business, Vedanta Ltd., said, "We look forward to implementing our groundbreaking process in bauxite residue management in our refinery operations. This is a significant milestone that will offer a pathway to enhanced resource efficiency and energy conservation and contribute towards reshaping the global aluminium industry."
Dr Chenna Rao Borra, assistant professor, department of metallurgical and materials engineering, IIT Kharagpur said," The reduction of bauxite residue has been one of the key challenges for the aluminium industry, requiring significant technological advancements. The process, developed through the collaborative efforts of IIT Kharagpur and the company, will not only significantly improve bauxite residue management but also contribute to reducing the carbon footprint in the process."
Bauxite is the primary ore for aluminium, and it undergoes an intermediate refining stage, known as the Bayer process, to produce alumina, which is then subjected to electrolysis to produce aluminium.
This refining process generates bauxite residue as a byproduct. To produce 1 kg of aluminium, it requires 2 kg of alumina, which consumes 6 kg of bauxite, leaving behind 4 kg of bauxite residue. Managing this voluminous by-product sustainably has been a long-standing industry challenge.
Vedanta Aluminium, the company claimed, is actively engaged in minimising bauxite residue and exploring avenues to extract value from it. The company has developed a revolutionary process, which has been successfully validated in the laboratory and patented. Presently, the company is focusing on establishing a pilot plant to implement and assess the process, along with determining its potential advantages.