Impact of Alternative Processes for Aluminum Production on Energy Requirements
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Increasing prices and the shortage of large blocks of electrical energy have given greater impetus to the search for viable alternative processes for aluminum production. These include electrolysis of aluminum chloride, sulfide, and nitride; carbothermal reduction of either the ore or alumina; and disproportioning reactions of either aluminum sulfide or the monochloride route. Common to all these processes are the starting material—an ore containing aluminum oxide—and the final product—the metal. Thus, the thermodynamic cycle will invariably dictate similar theoretical energy requirements for the three processes. In practice, however, the achievable efficiencies and, more noticeably, the proportion of electrical to carbothermal energy required for the various stages of operation can vary.
The present status of these alternative processes indicates that while alternative routes, such as the Alcoa-AlCl3-Smelting Process, show distinct potential for reducing electrical energy requirements, they offer little chance of reducing overall energy requirements. Furthermore, because of more stringent purity requirements, any gains made may be at the expense of production costs.
KeywordsEnergy Efficiency Energy Requirement Current Efficiency Bipolar Cell Carbothermic Reduction
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