Emirates Global Aluminium, EGA, on Sunday announced that its emissions of perfluorocarbons were at a record low for the company in 2017.
EGA has signed an agreement with the University of New South Wales to research how to carry out further reductions. Perfluorocarbons, known as PFCs, are a group of greenhouse gases which have thousands of times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Reducing PFC emissions is an important environmental goal of the global aluminium industry.
EGA’s emissions of PFCs were 22 kilogrammes per tonne of aluminium produced in 2017, compared to the global average of 380 kilogrammes per tonne in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available from the International Aluminium Institute.
At EGA’s newer Al Taweelah smelter, PFC emissions in 2017 were seven kilogrammes per tonne of aluminium produced.
In the aluminium industry, reported PFC emissions are known to be associated with imbalances known as Anode Effects. These occur when the alumina concentration falls in the cells in which aluminium is smelted.
Through the development of technology and operational improvements, EGA has reduced the frequency of Anode Effects in its operations from an average of once every three days in each reduction cell in 2009, to less than once every 12 days in each reduction cell in 2017. The average duration of each Anode Effect has similarly decreased, from 44 seconds in 2009 to below 21 seconds in 2017.
The new research that EGA will conduct with scientists from the University of New South Wales aims to reduce, what the industry terms "background" PFC emissions. The research is being led by Executive Vice President Dr. Ali Al Zarouni, who is in charge of the company’s aluminium smelters in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and EGA’s technology development staff.
"Reducing PFC emissions in the aluminium industry is a matter of fundamental environmental responsibility. Unfortunately, no single factor provides the solution. Rather, we have achieved our reductions through developing our own smelting and pot-control technology, continuously improving our operational processes, and rigorously monitoring the quality of our raw materials.
"We believe our new research is the first of its kind, as it aims to tackle emissions from minute changes, rather than just reducing Anode Effects that we can all detect today. Working with the University of New South Wales enables us to combine our own technological expertise with the latest academic thinking, to tackle this particularly difficult challenge," Dr. Al Zarouni said.