Dubal, GE Energy team up to improve energy efficiency

Apr 30, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Nathan Laliberte

Tags  Dubai Aluminium Co., GE Energy, nitrogen oxide emissions, Keiran Coulton, Abdulla Kalban, dry low-nitrogen oxide combustion systems, Gulf Turbine Services Facility,

The price of energy has reached unprecedented levels in the past decade. In an effort to lower energy costs, many metal manufacturers are developing innovative solutions to reduce overall energy consumption. 

Aluminum, in particular, is especially costly to produce, with electricity accounting for nearly one-third of total production costs. One company, Dubai Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Dubal), has taken a proactive stance to save power in an energy-reduction initiative with GE Energy that focuses primarily on its fleet of gas turbines. 

State-owned Dubal’s production complex south of Dubai produces about 960,000 tonnes of aluminum annually for customers in 48 countries. The facility, expanded several times over the past 30 years, is currently powered by 23 gas turbines running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to produce enough electricity to power the plant’s massive smelters. In all, the complex has a generation capacity of 2,350 megawatts, making the operation completely autonomous in terms of energy requirements. 

The process of manufacturing aluminum—converting alumina into metallic aluminum—requires a large amount of electricity. During the smelting process, a direct electrical current with extremely high amperage (usually 150,000 amperes or more) must be channeled through a cryolite/alumina mixture to achieve the desired chemical reactions. Additionally, the potline must run around the clock; any power interruptions can cause the pots to “freeze,” resulting in irreversible damage. The entire process uses so much energy that aluminum smelters accounted for nearly 3 percent of global energy consumption in 2011. ....

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