As population and consumption patterns grow throughout the world, there will be an increased demand for products made from aluminum. Alcoa estimates that 80 new aluminum plants will be needed by 2020 in order to meet future demand- a majority of which will be located in China.
Although increased production makes aluminum production a promising field for investment, it also means increased costs- both economic and environmental.
The Anode Effect
Anode effects are a perturbation of a normally operating cell that is accompanied by a rise in cell voltage from the normal ~4 volts to 10 to 30 volts, sometimes more. The increased cell voltage results in a period of excessive energy consumption which, if prolonged, can impact the thermal balance of the cell and cause other process upsets. More significant is that during the anode effect the cell emits substantial quantities of fluorinated hydrocarbons (PFCs) such as CF4. These PFCs, kg for kg, have thousands of times the greenhouse gas effect of carbon dioxide, the gas emitted by the cells under normal conditions. Consequently the aluminum industry has strived to control anode effects. In the last century anode effects at the rate of ~ one per cell per day were common. Well run plants today have anode effects at the rate of ~0.005 per cell per day but there are still many plants which have yet to achieve this figure. WIT’s technology for anticipating anode effects can contribute to the lowering of anode effect frequency and duration.
WIT Sensors in Aluminum Plants
In an effort to reduce these economic and environmental costs of aluminum production, Wireless Industrial Technologies has begun to work with aluminum manufacturers across the globe. WIT’s sensor systems wirelessly monitor aluminum smelters to provide an early warning of anode effects and to achieve other improvements in smelter performance.