EGA continues to forge ahead with technology innovation

Hinged grating along potshell will facilitate easier and safer measurements

United Arab Emirates: The largest primary aluminium producer in the region and among the top five producers in the world, Emirates Global Aluminium (“EGA”) has for more than 25 years implemented advanced technologies – many developed in-house – to improve productivity and enhance operational procedures at its operations,while maintaining the highest standards of environmental conservation.

As part of its mandate to drive an ongoing quest for innovation-based improvements, the dedicated Technology Development & Transfer department at EGA continuously forges ahead in identifying and implementing technological advancements for the benefit of the aluminium industry. A case in point is the successful filing of an application in September 2015 to patent the development of hinged grating for easy access to the outer shell of electrolytic cells, facilitating safer inspection and measurements as well as natural cooling and temporary forced cooling during cell start-up. The innovation, developed at EGA Jebel Ali (also known as Dubai Aluminium or “DUBAL”), is the brainchild of Mark Jordan (Lead Engineer - R&D, Technology Development & Transfer), Mahmood Abdulmalik (Senior Manager, Technology Engineering) and Syed Fiaz Ahmed (Engineer I - R&D, Technology Development & Transfer).

The invention relates to the way in which operators and maintenance inspectors access functional elements of the potlinein order to monitor certain parameters related to the operation of the cell, such as potshell outer surface temperatures or voltage drops of cathode connections. ordan explains that, in the current arrangement, access to the intercalary space between the potshells is closed by a heavy top structure (a “slab”) that requires the use of a machine or crane to be removed.The space between the potshell and the slab is fitted with grating for worker safety and to allow air heated by thermal contact with the potshell to move upwards, thereby cooling the potshell by natural convection. The intercalary space is accessed through the grating using rod-shaped probes through a narrow aperture – a task that is often difficult.

“Our objective was to devise with an economical way of redesigning the grating adjacent to the top slab in order to improve access into the intercalary space, while meeting all the requirements of electrical insulation and worker safety,” explains Jordan. “Our team developed a simple, yet novel, type of hinged grating that allows workers to use a rotation axis to lift the grating – thereby creating more substantial access to the space below while also contributing to greater cooling by convection.”

The use of the hinged grating on the top cover design, implemented across EGA Reduction Technologies, has already yielded measurable operating cost reductions and increased productivity. Working closely with Takamul – an innovation protection support programme developed and operated by the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (“TDC”) – the new innovation and will set the industry benchmark for utilisation in this type of plant.