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Norwegian raw material for aluminum creates great interest

portrait of two colleagues, one woman, one man

Turning point: Asunción (Suni) Aranda and Harald Solhaug, both from, IFE, Institute for Energy Technology, Dept of Environmental Industrial Processes at Kjeller, are happy about the production of silica with a new optimized process with Norwegian raw material in a pilot plant in Herøya Forskningspark. The EU-funded project has 16 partners from 9 different countries. Herøya Industripark AS is a partner.

In a pilot plant at Herøya, researchers from IFE and industrial experts from the industrial park have succeeded in producing silica as byproduct from an aluminium-production process, using Norwegian raw material and a new optimized process.

Now the international aluminum and silica industry is showing great interest in the new alternative raw material.

  

Green industry from Herøya: read more articles from the pilot plants in Herøya Forskningspark

This is the second article in a mini-series about the power of innovation and knowledge that is translated into green industry in Herøya Research Park. Read the previous issue:

Raw material mixing pilot for fertiliser production

Every day, researchers and industry experts in Herøya Forskningspark (Research Park) develop and test new ideas to make energy, industry and products even more renewable and sustainable.

Meet the experts, eager to tell about the work they do running the test facilities, labs and large pilot plants.

Big step closer to the dream

Asunción (Suni) Aranda, a researcher at The Institute for Energy Technology, IFE, Department of Environmental Industrial Processes at Kjeller in Norway, is very satisfied. She leads the 60 million NOK EU funded AlSiCal-project.

portrait of woman with a big pair of protective glasses in a pilot facility

Suni Aranda, researcher at the The Institute for Energy Technology, IFE, Department of Environmental Industrial Processes, Kjeller, who collaborates with partner Herøya Industripark AS in the Research Park.

"With an optimized production process of silica from Norwegian anorthosite rock, we are a big step closer to the dream," says Suni Aranda. "The dream for this technology we are developing in the AlSiCal project is to be able to supply the aluminum industry and others with domestic raw material and at the same time drive forward the green shift."

Suni Aranda and her team at IFE have researched a completely new technology that separates several raw materials from the rock anorthosite. There is a lot of this rock in special places in Norway, and several countries in the world.

man shows product sample on shovel from a plastic tank

Harald Solhaug, engineer IFE, demonstrates the first silica separated from anorthosite in the pilot hall in Herøya Research Park. The AlSiCal project now mainly uses anorthosite from Gudvangen Stein AS in Aurland in Norway, but has also tested anorthosite on a laboratory scale from several places in the world, including Canada, Greenland and South Africa.

New raw material source, strategically important

The AlSiCal project is mainly about producing an alternative raw material for aluminum production. Bauxite used today has several environmental challenges.

"New raw material sources are strategically very important," says Suni. "It is not just the environmental aspect, but access to raw materials is strategically and politically important for Europe and Norway. It is important that we become independent of third parties."

Great interest

Elkem is an industrial partner in AlSiCal, and makes important assessments of the quality of silica, possibilities of use and value potential.

"Now we are also noticing great interest from several others. We receive inquiries from all over the world requesting information and raw material samples. Markets have changed, and especially with the war in Europe, it can shift from global to more national," says Suni.

sitting down assessing the pilot process

Suni assesses the process together with Martin Sneltvedt, Bilfinger.

Strong environmental signature 

"The project also has a strong environmental signature," Suni points out. "We produce with less emissions and waste, we use CO2 in the process, and we use raw materials from Norway."

"Europe is very keen to develop alternative and green processes for this important material, which is why we received a lot of funding from the EU. And the demand for aluminum is increasing worldwide."

Cooperation with the Herøya environment works wonderfully

Suni Aranda fully praises the collaboration with industry experts from Herøya.

"The communication and the practical cooperation work wonderfully. What we are doing here is a good example of how research institutes and industry can combine knowledge."

"Scaling up processes is challenging. Here we cover the entire innovation chain from idea to concept, bench-scale lab and to larger pilots. We are already discussing new steps for this phase and the next. As long as we make good progress, we have a long-term plan," she says.

"In the long term, we hope to be able to produce enough silica that can be used in several products, including car tyres, glass and cement," says Suni.

Valuable learning

Pilot expert Rolf Olaf Larsen, Herøya Industripark AS, has participated in the AlSiCal project since its inception. He is active in facilitating piloting as well as helping to verify sub-processes of the new technology.

"Technically, the pilot works well, and together with assistance from Bilfinger, we adjust the temperature, pressure and filter equipment in the process. Bilfinger's contribution is very valuable in test production here."

-"After this pilot campaign, I believe we are able to develop an even larger process for the production of aluminum and other important products from mineral resources," says Rolf Olaf Larsen.

discussing adjustments to the process

Rolf Olaf Larsen discusses adjustments in the pilot process with Martin Sneltvedt.

three men standing by the pilot

From left Rolf Olaf Larsen, Herøya Industripark AS, Per Ove Arvesen and Martin Sneltvedt from Bilfinger. They installed the pilot plant in Herøya Research Park early summer.

three men work at the pilot plant and adjust the process
checking product from pilot

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 820911.

AlSiCal-prosjektet has 16 partners from 9 different countries, it is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and started in 2019. AlSiCal's technology enables the co-production of three essential raw materials (alumina, silica and precipitated calcium carbonate) using new minerals - for example anorthosite, which is abundantly available worldwide. Production will be able to take place without producing red mud (redmud/bauxite residue) and without emissions of CO2.

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