Scientists from CSIRO and five Universities will research sustainable energy-efficient technologies for the Australasian aluminium industry through a collaboration launched today.
Primary production of aluminium is highly energy intensive, and reducing the amount of energy used will assist the industry in maintaining competitiveness.
The ‘breakthrough technologies for primary aluminium’ research cluster brings together researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, the University of Auckland, the University of New South Wales, the University of Queensland, and the University of Wollongong, in collaboration with CSIRO scientists.
The announcement of the cluster was welcomed by Australian Aluminium Council Executive Director Mr Miles Prosser.
"Maintaining Australia's position as a global force in the aluminium industry is a key priority and we are pleased to see research that will maintain our competitive advantage,” Mr Prosser said.
“Advances such as improved cell materials, non-consumable anodes and improved process regulation mechanisms will contribute greatly to the ongoing viability of the aluminium industry.”
The cluster researchers will investigate design improvements for high temperature aluminium reduction cells such as new materials for sidewalls and cathodes, improvements to process control and regulation, and breakthrough technologies for novel electrolytes, non-consumable anodes and multistage high temperature production.
“The cluster collaboration addresses a fundamental need of the aluminium industry,” CSIRO’s Light Metals Flagship Director Dr Raj Rajakumar said.
“It complements and extends CSIRO’s existing research activities investigating aluminium production technologies with low carbon footprints.”
The collaboration is an initiative of CSIRO’s National Research Flagships Collaboration Fund involving a collective investment of more than A$8 million over a three year period.
“Engagement with industry is an important aim of the cluster, “cluster leader Swinburne University of Technology Professor Geoffrey Brooks said.
“We hope that the cluster will ultimately develop into an ongoing consortium that will service and support the industry and consolidate its global position."
Australia exported more than A$5 billion of aluminium metal in 2008.