Sustainable Business

Alcoa gets Australian grant for process to cut alumina emissions

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MELBOURNE, May 21 (Reuters) - Alcoa Corp (AA.N) is looking to develop a process to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the refining of alumina by up to 70%, with support from an Australian government agency grant, the two groups said on Friday.

Refining alumina, which is used to make aluminium, accounted for about 24% of Australia's direct manufacturing emissions, or more than 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said in a statement.

Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of alumina, which is refined from bauxite using high pressure steam.

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The A$11.3 million ($8.8 million) grant will help Alcoa develop a process that would use renewable energy to power compressors to turn waste vapour into steam, a technology known as mechanical vapour recompression (MVR).

"MVR recompresses waste steam that would otherwise be exhausted to the atmosphere and recycles it in the refining process. This technology has the potential to improve efficiency, reduce costs and reduce emissions," ARENA said.

If feasibility studies are successful, Alcoa said in a statement it plans to install a three megawatt MVR module with renewable energy at the Alcoa of Australia Wagerup refinery in Western Australia to test the technology at scale by the end of 2023.

The total cost of the project is A$28.2 million. If successful, the process could help cut greenhouse gasses in alumina and also across the aluminium supply chain, said Eugenio Azevedo, Alcoa's Vice President for Continuous Improvement.

Alcoa of Australia is a joint venture owned 60% by Alcoa and 40% by Alumina Ltd. (AWC.AX)

($1 = 1.2893 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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