Lab Canada

$19M R&D support for Alcan’s waste treatment project in Quebec

Ville Saguenay, QC – The federal government says it is providing $19.1 million to support research and development activities at Alcan Primary Metal’s Jonquire facility in Quebec. The funding is part of a $242 million pilot project to process and recycle waste material created by the aluminum smelting process, promoting a cleaner environment with innovative technology.

The hazardous waste material consists of spent pot linings (SPL). These are the linings of the electrolytic cells in which aluminum is produced. Each pot has a useful life of about six to seven years, after which it is rebuilt with a new carbon lining, which becomes the cathode of the electrolytic process. The SPL is composed of old refractory bricks and carbon-containing material from the electrolytic lining, as well as fluorides and a small amount of cyanide. Classified as hazardous waste, it must be handled accordingly. SPL originating at the facility is currently stored on site.

The pilot project consists of designing, constructing, testing and optimizing a full-scale pilot plant for the treatment of SPL, with an approximate capacity of 80,000 tonnes per year. The plant will use a chemical process developed by Alcan, called low concentration caustic leaching and liming (LCLL), that will enable the company to convert SPL into a non-hazardous waste, and facilitate the recycling and the upgrading of some products derived from the treatment. If successful, this project would greatly reduce the need for storing or landfilling SPL.

Approximately 55,000 tonnes of SPL are generated in Quebec each year from aluminum smelters, with nearly half of this coming from Alcan’s facilities.

“We are happy to partner with the government of Canada on this important project. This investment will help us to reduce the environmental impacts of our activities, while also creating employment opportunities and contributing to the local economy, ” said Cynthia Carroll, president and CEO of Alcan Primary Metal.