Rusal has announced the launch of an experimental reduction area at the Irkutsk Aluminium Smelter, which will operate under the EcoSoderberg technology.

The total amount of investment in the project amounted to 540 million roubles.

Implementing EcoSoderberg technology is one of the priority retrofitting projects for RUSAL. New generation potcells have a significantly reduced environmental impact, and bring increased energy efficiency to aluminium smelters and automation for the majority of production processes.

The pilot production at the Irkutsk Aluminium Smelter includes four retrofitted potcells. Before the end of 2017, the number of modernised potcells will increase to six.

Victor Mann, Technical Director of UC RUSAL, commented: “Based on the results of the pilot project, we will decide on the time-frame of the modernisation that will target all operating self-baking anode cells. In total, there are more than 500 of them at the smelter, which in the coming years will be upgraded.”

EcoSoderberg is a unique proprietary solution developed by the RUSAL's Krasnoyarsk-based Engineering and Technology Centre. The environmental effectiveness of the technology is due to its improved structural design and effective gas removal system.

As of today, over 60% of KrAZ capacities have been converted to the EcoSoderberg technology. Over the past three years, project investments have amounted to over 3 billion roubles. Retrofitting at KrAZ has resulted in a significant improvement in production efficiency and has reduced specific emissions of harmful substances: hydrogen fluoride emissions were reduced by 1.5 times, tarry substance was reduced by 2.7 times, and benzapyrene was reduced by 2.5 times. Re-fitting potcells to EcoSoderberg technology is now taking place at the Bratsk Aluminium Smelter (40 new generation cells have been installed). RUSAL is also planning to convert two potrooms at the Novokuznetsk Aluminium Smelter (NkAZ) to EcoSoderberg.

Introduction of the EcoSoderberg technology at IrkAZ is part of the integrated environmental initiatives ran by the smelter. Between 2016 and 2021, RUSAL will invest 5 billion roubles in a comprehensive retrofitting that will involve the modernisation of the treatment facilities and redesign of the gas removal systems.