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PyroGenesis to develop plasma gasification process for Spent Pot Lining

In Canada, plasma technology developer PyroGenesis Canada Inc. has announced that it has received a grant of CA$194 090 from the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation, through the Support for innovation projects component of the Innovation program, administered by Investissement Québec (QC). The goal of this project is to develop a solution to recover the residues of pot lining – Spent Pot Lining (SPL) – which are produced in the primary aluminum industry and considered dangerous waste.

The thermal plasmas used by PyroGenesis can easily reach temperatures in excess of 5 500 degrees Celsius, comparable to what can be observed at the surface of the sun. By harnessing the unique properties of thermal plasma PyroGenesis technology is used to melt and transform wire into powders, to convert waste into energy, to convert quartz into silicon, and to break down waste into its most simple elements (photo courtesy PyroGenesis).

According to a statement, PyroGenesis will play an important role in eliminating the landfill of SPL and potentially other industrial by-products, in addition to significantly reducing specific greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This process may also be applicable to reducing the environmental footprint in other industries.

PyroGenesis is working in partnership with the largest aluminum smelter in the Americas, Aluminerie Alouette, a company based in Sept-Îles, Québec.

Currently, the various solutions for recycling and recovering these hazardous materials on a global scale are limited and expensive. By way of example, chemical treatment processes only achieve a recovery rate of approximately 80 percent.

PyroGenesis is working to develop a process that would transform spent pot lining residues into a fuel that is lower in carbon, and as well as into materials that are inert and reusable, thus generating significant benefits for the environment.

In addition, the resulting reduction in direct costs, combined with the advantages of the process developed by PyroGenesis, should give users of this new process a significant economic advantage in the marketplace.

Managing the hazardous residues from spent pot lining residues is a challenging issue facing the aluminum industry. According to our internal calculations, we estimate the global value of spent pot lining recovery at approximately CA$3 billion. If successful, this project will be another PyroGenesis offering aimed at improving the environment through landfill and GHG reduction, said Pierre Carabin, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Strategist at PyroGenesis.

According to the International Aluminium Institute, on average, 15-35 kg of SPL is generated per tonne of aluminum produced. An estimated 1.5 million tonnes of SPL are produced annually worldwide, and the majority of these residues are landfilled or stored, awaiting a technological solution.

If PyroGenesis’ proposed process is successful, it could be the answer to a problem plaguing the aluminum industry.

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