In June, Alunorte and the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) signed an agreement to carry out research on the feasibility of producing low-carbon cement from bauxite residue.
The project is part of the agreement between Hydro and the University initiated in 2019 on several lines of research, including the residue resulting from Hydro's operations: the Alunorte alumina refinery in Barcarena and the bauxite mine in Paragominas.
Research aimed at sustainable low-carbon cement production addresses Hydro's sustainability goal for bauxite residue. The company seeks to use part of this residue to generate new products by 2030, using approximately 500,000 tonnes of bauxite residue per year.
Through this project, Hydro aims to develop sustainable technological solutions for local cement producers in order to reduce not only their production costs, but also their environmental impact, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving natural resources.
The low-carbon research project is estimated to last 18 months and include five researchers from the UFPA Construction Technology Laboratory and five other professionals from the Technology Department, which includes the Hydro Research & Development area.
Alunorte's Industrial Director, Michel Lisboa, says that the project is an opportunity for Alunorte to apply all the university's knowledge to develop sustainable and long-lasting technologies.
“Hydro seeks to be a benchmark in sustainability in the aluminium industry. To do so, partnership in search of innovation with the academy is fundamental. The research is an opportunity to promote global and local advances in our environmental management, with a reduction in carbon emissions and the reuse of bauxite residue - a long-term goal for the entire aluminium industry,” says Lisboa.
The agreement was signed in May 2019. With the agreement, the two institutions can expand the interaction between the academy and the industries based in Pará. Hydro's senior manager of Bauxite & Alumina Research & Development, Erik Araújo, explains that Hydro has assembled a governance team to build the relationship with the university for technological projects. Two workshops have already been held.
The research on the use of bauxite residue is the first project of the agreement. "The signing of the first agreement symbolises the realisation of a partnership, which is the result of the efforts of both sides. The project opens up a range of initiatives, in addition to bringing future benefits and associating the company with the most important academic institution in Pará. This residue will become raw material for the cement industry and the processing stage has the potential to generate jobs," he says.
Hydro and UFPA have been partners since 2013 in the Brazil-Norway Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC), in Paragominas, which is also integrated with the Federal Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA), the University of Oslo and the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi (MPEG).
The Consortium seeks to reach the highest level of development in ecological and environmental rehabilitation, based on science, in addition to promoting education and research. About 100 professionals are involved in all of the Consortium's research programs.
Commenting on the agreement between Hydro and UNFPA, Miles Prosser, Secretary General of the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), welcomed the partnership noting that:
“Finding new uses for by-products from aluminium production is an important part of meeting's society's expectations on our industry. If aluminium by-products can also deliver environmental benefits in another industry, such as cement, then we are making great progress towards a sustainable circular economy. Hydro has been actively engaged in IAI’s work in increasing the use of bauxite residue in cement and concrete products and so this development is welcome news.”