UC RUSAL has announced the launch of the first RA-550 pot of new generation running at over 550 kA at the Sayanogorsk aluminium smelter as part of a USD 28 mln project.

The key benefit of the new pots is their energy efficiency. A RA-550 cell consumes around 12 kW*h/kg of aluminium, which is 10-15% less than previous generations. According to design documents, one pot will produce 4.21 tonnes of aluminium per day, which is about twice as much as the daily output of a RA-300 pot currently used at SAZ.

RUSAL has plans to use RA-550 for the modernisation of current facilities as well as for new smelters’ construction in the future. Design and technical improvements made RA-550 lighter, more compact and more environmentally efficient. In particular, the exhaust gas treatment efficiency will reach 99%, and pot tending will be automated wherever possible.

Before the end of the year, four more RA-550 pots will be started up at the pilot area at SAZ, followed by three pots in 2017.

“The physical launch of RA-550 is genuinely a technical and engineering breakthrough,” Victor Mann, RUSAL’s Technical Director, commented. “The start-up of this first pot confirms that with new technical solutions we managed to eliminate the previously existing limitations to continue increasing the pot amperage to beyond 1 MA. Also, their smaller size means we can install eight RA-550 pots within an area where only seven S-255 pots fitted in.”

The project tried to maximise the use of domestically produced materials and equipment as part of the national import substitution programme. Among the key contractors was Russian Engineering Company, which manufactured and installed cathode shells and busbar and also set-up the pilot area.

Development of the RA-550 technology began two years ago, and the start-up marks a very important milestone for the company. The project involved state financing from the Industry Development Fund and the Ministry of Education and Science.