UC RUSAL Sustainability report 2016


Research and technological development

Scientific and technological development

Management approach

The strategic goal of UC RUSAL is to become the most efficient and environmentally friendly producer in the world. To achieve this, the Company invests in its own engineering and technology base, developing innovative technologies and products, and retrofitting production facilities. The results of the investments promote:

          increase of the share of value-added products;

          improvement of product quality;

          reduction of the energy intensity of production;

          improvement of environmental safety.

The scientific and technological activities of the Company are in line with the following sustainable development goals – 2030:

          Goal 9: industry, innovation and infrastructure;

          Goal 12: responsible consumption and production.

The Engineering and Technology Centre (ETC) of UC RUSAL is the main business unit of the Company in charge with scientific and technological development. It conducts research and development (R&D) and has successful experience in developing and implementing new technologies. Two design institutes carry out the planning of new construction and retrofitting.

ETC cooperates with leading Russian and foreign specialised universities and scientific institutes, which are developing new or adapting existing approaches and technologies to improve production processes and equipment.

A number of projects is being implemented on the basis of co-financing by the state. In 2016, more than RUR 320 mln. werereceived in the form of subsidies and grants from the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, as well as a concessional loan of RUR 2.8 billion. G4-ЕС4

A total of 63 projects were under implementation in 2016, most of which were implemented.

Production of value-added products

The increase in the share of value-added products (VAP) to 55% at the Russian production facilities by 2020 is one of the key strategic objectives of the Company.

UC RUSAL carefully adapts the product line to customers' needs and current trends in industry demand, continues to implement projects for the reconstruction and retrofitting of production facilities, and expands the range and quality of products.

Core businesses:

          development of the green aluminium product line;

          obtaining of new alloys and introduction of a technology for the production of slabs and billets for the production of aluminium bridges and aluminium wagons;

          development of new types of wire rod from aluminium alloys, including the production of enameled wire;

          introduction/development of a technology for the production of slabs from aluminium-scandium alloys;

          search for technical solutions to increase the strength of the wire rod and billets, as well as to reduce the content of hydrogen and sodium in ingots.

Increase in the output of value-added products

Indicators

2013

2014

2015

2016

VAP share, %

42

44

45

45

Innovations in aluminium production

The Company conducts research and development and introduces new technologies and processes that help to solve the tasks relevant for the aluminium industry, as evidenced by the support of UC RUSAL projects by government departments.

Reduction cell with inert anodes

As part of the main sustainable development objective to reduce the carbon footprint, the Company continues to test its own design and technology with inert anodes. The introduction of this technology will allow the production of green aluminium products.

The production of aluminium with inert anodes excludes entirely the emissions of greenhouse gases and polyaromatic hydrocarbons and is characterised by lower material consumption. A ruler of green aluminium alloys has been developed, which can be produced using inert anodes characterised by elevated mechanical and operational properties.

In 2016 works were performed to select optimal technological process parameters, to test technical solutions intended to improve and stabilise reduction process indicators and to minimise cell maintenance operations. Product tests were carried out with the Company's customers.

Superpower cells

The introduction of RA-550 superpower cells contributes to the task of reducing the energy intensity of aluminium production.

In 2016, the RA-550 cell was launched at the Sayanogorsk aluminium smelter. The main advantage of this type of cells developed by the Technical Directorate of UC RUSAL is high energy efficiency. RA-550 consumes by 10-15% less power than previous generation cells, about 12 kWh/kg. According to the design plans and specification RA-550 cell will produce 4.21 tonnes of aluminium per day, which is about twice as much as the RA-300 cell currently used by the production facility. New technical solutions to remove gas from the cell will improve eco-efficiency and reduce the volume of wastes from major repairs by over 30%. The technology will be implemented primarily at the Sayanogorsk and Krasnoyarsk smelters.

Processes and products

R&D projects contribute not only to the production of high value-added products, but also to a more rational use of natural resources and improved environmental safety.

Waste

The Company is testing the technology for the processing of red mud, the waste of alumina production, which contains valuable metal oxides, including scandium. The use of technology will eliminate the costly disposal of wastes that have a negative impact on the environment due to high alkalinity. Adding scandium to aluminium allows obtaining a material with unique properties (light, plastic and solid as steel). In 2016, at the pilot site (Ural aluminium smelter), 10 kg of 99.4% scandium were obtained from red mud. The technology is expected to be further refined to minimise production costs.

Products

Increased output of value-added products is ensured by the development and production of new products, among others.

Aluminium-scandium alloys

The projects for the development and production of aluminium-scandium alloys and master alloys can have a promising future because of the attractive properties for potential customers (strength, corrosion resistance, etc.).

The Company implements two key projects in this area:

     production of aluminium-scandium alloys for use in electrical engineering;production of aluminium-scandium master alloys for the modification of aluminium alloys for use in the automotive, aviation and shipbuilding industries.

In 2016, under the first project the commercial operations commenced on the installation for the production of aluminium wire rod and aluminium alloys at the Irkutsk aluminium smelter; under the second the pilot section was mounted for the Al-Sc (aluminium-scandium) master alloy technology. In the future, joint testing of the product with foreign and Russian consumers is envisaged.

The Company sees great potential for the use of alloys from scandium in the aerospace, transport and energy sectors.

Materials and processes

Alumina production

The development of a new technology of alumina production from non-bauxite ores in Siberia continues. The project offers prospects for the development of large reserves of Siberian ore. In 2016, the miniature full-cycle plant was created. The financial and economic assessment of the construction of a large format industrial facility is under way.

Ore enrichment

A technologically sound and economically viable way of enriching poor ore from Goryachegorsk has been obtained. With the new method, the output of the concentrate exceeds 75%, in terms of the content of useful components the concentrate exceeds the quality of the ore of the Achinsk alumina refinery produced on the Kiya-Shaltyr field. In 2016 pre-design study was carried out with respect to switching of the Achinsk alumina refinery to the new raw material base. A license for subsoil use is being obtained. Therefore, prospects were opened to extend the life cycle of Achinsk alumina refinery by 50 years after exhaustion of the Kiya-Shaltyr Nepheline Ore Deposit (2028-2030).

Key retrofitting projects

Project

Production facility

Outcome/benchmark

Production of metallurgical products

Production of value-added products

 

Construction of casting system for the production of slabs (completion of the project in 2019)

Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter

Production of new types of products, including large diameter billets – the first batch is planned to be obtained in 2017

Increased equipment performance up to 150 thousand tonnes per year

Lower energy intensity of production

 

 

Units for the heating up and filling of cathode assembly with cast iron (completion of the project in 2018)

Bratsk aluminium smelter

Lower energy consumption of aluminium production by over 100 kWh/t

Production growth

 

Installation of Properzi continuous horizontal casting system from automobile alloys (project under completion)

Khakas aluminium smelter

Increase in production of 10-kg ingots from automobile alloys

Project of amperage increase of the potline no 5 up to 330 kA (completion of the project in 2018)

Irkutsk aluminium smelter

Additional production of 6 thousand tonnes of aluminium per year

Alumina production

Projects to increase alumina output (expected to be completed in 2017)

Bogosovsk aluminium smelter (the project was completed in 2016), Mykolayiv alumina refinery and Urals aluminium smelter

Alumina production has been increased:

BAZ: alumina production capacity has been restored to 1030 thou. tonnes

UAZ (expected): increase in annual output of alumina up to 900 thou. tonnes

NGZ (expected): Increase in production capacities of the digestion area to 1.7 mln. tonnes of alumina per year

Powder metallurgy

 

 

Installation of new powder production equipment for 3D printing (scheduled to the completed in 2017)

Powder Metallurgy – Shelekhov

Increase in Company's profits of USD 0.7 to USD 0.9 mln. per year with additional production of a high margin product

Environmental results of the introduction of new technologies and projects G4-EN27

Technology

Result

A programme for the equipping of all production facilities with dry gas treatment units has been developed and is being introduced. The total project cost for the next five years will be of USD 120 million

The treatment plant absorbs up to 99% of the substances from the exhaust gases. The emissions of harmful substances to the atmosphere were reduced by over 30%

For the first time in the world, projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the frequency of anode effects have been developed and implemented

For the period 2008-2012, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 14 million tonnes

Testing of technology of processing and ultra-dry storage of red mud

Extension of the life of red mud disposal areas and reduction of storage costs and environmental impact: mitigation of the risks of soil and groundwater pollution by alkali

Development and testing of revolutionary aluminium production technology using inert, carbon-free anode

The by-product of this technique is not carbon dioxide, but oxygen. Besides, the cell will be able to produce the same amount of oxygen as 70 hectares of timber. The results of the testing are expected in 2017

Development of technology for obtaining green pitch from coal for the formation of anodes for the reduction area

Reduction of pyrene emissions by 10-15 times to the minimum level

Development of the technology by the use of unformed cell lining materials;

technology of processing of carbon lining and flotation tailings

Improvement of the environmental safety of major productions

Plans for 2017

Extension of the tests of the technology of aluminium reduction on the inert anodes to the level of the group of cells; as a result of the tests, a programme will be developed for the conversion of aluminium production from carbon anodes to inert anodes.

Driving up to the design indicators of RA550 superpower cells, launching of the remaining cells of the area, fixation of energy and environmental indicators at a level comparable to the best world figures.

Projects will continue to develop new products and improve the quality of existing products.

The main areas of the projects of modernisation and development of the production facilities will continue to be relevant.