Redirection reduces impact of erosion

Oct 06, 2010
Rio Tinto Alcan’s Yarwun alumina refinery. Photo: Rio Tinto Alcan

The life expectancy of cooling plates in heat exchangers at Rio Tinto Alcan’s Yarwun alumina refinery has increased from a few days to as long as 12 months with help from CSIRO’s slurry erosion researchers, according to the October issue of Process magazine.

“Traditional defences by industry against of critical equipment were to build the equivalent of a high wall, to make improvements to the way materials are hardened and to follow up with routine repairs to the damage caused by fine particles flowing in slurry form through a mineral processing facility,” says Dr. Jie Wu who leads slurry erosion research for CSIRO’s Minerals Down Under Flagship.

“What we’re working on are smarter ways to minimise damage in the first place, extending the working life of equipment, saving both time and money.”

At Rio Tinto Alcan’s alumina refinery, constant bombardment of the cooling plates by abrasive hydrated alumina particles in the slurry was forcing the plant operator to replace some plates as frequently as every few days.

“What we suggested was a way to make the slurry flow more uniform by inserting a form of mesh to homogenise the flow. This eliminated the peak hot spots and minimised damage to the cooling plates,” Dr. Wu says.

The benefits from implementing that single piece of advice have been dramatic. The life expectancy of cooling plates has been extended from a few days to as long as 12 months, representing a major saving in the maintenance costs. The biggest reward, however, is minimising plant shutdowns and maximising production.

Explore further: An innovative system anticipates driver fatigue in the vehicle to prevent accidents

More information: This and other stories can be found in the October issue of Process, which is released today. A pdf of the magazine is available at: Process magazine (Oct 10).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Broken bones and medication

Oct 05, 2010

Although one in four women over 50 develops osteoporosis, most are unaware they have the disease — something Professor Suzanne Cadarette would like to change.

Are we getting enough vitamin D?

Oct 04, 2010

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) are on a mission to find out if we need to supplement our diet with vitamin D.

Recommended for you

Catching grease to cut grill pollution

Jul 21, 2014

A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students have designed a tray that when placed under the grates of a backyard grill reduces by 70 percent the level of a harmful ...

User comments : 0