United Arab Emirates: Emirates Global Aluminium (“EGA”), one of the world’s leading primary aluminium producers and the largest industrial company in the UAE outside the oil industry, today announced the filing of two more new technology patents while marking Innovation Week. EGA has filed eight patents during 2016.
EGA has also held a series of Innovation Week workshops to bring together staff from across the company to improve a key safety process.
EGA has developed technology in the UAE for over 25 years to improve continually its aluminium smelting process. The business has used its own UAE-developed technology for every expansion of its smelters since the 1990s.
Earlier this year, Aluminium Bahrain selected EGA’s aluminium smelting technology for its own expansion project. The deal made EGA the first UAE industrial company to sell its own large-scale industrial technology internationally.
EGA started filing patents when it began to consider licensing its technology internationally. Since 2014, EGA has worked closely with Takamul – an innovation support programme developed and operated by the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee – to protect and commercialise its intellectual property.
Previously EGA relied upon trade secrecy to protect its innovations while implementing it technologies within EGA smelters.
The new patents will help expand EGA’s patent portfolio to 20 by the end of 2016. Two of the latest patents, developed by a team of EGA engineers in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, Australia, focus on developing a novel way to control the cells which has potential to improve production efficiencies at EGA’s smelters, and monitoring the environmental performance of electrolytic reduction cells within the smelters to help mitigate the production of greenhouse gases.
Abdulla Kalban (MD & CEO of EGA) said: “Innovation is a practical process at EGA which both drives the global competitiveness of our business and creates a revenue stream through technology licensing. Although heavy industry is not always associated in the public mind with innovation, I believe the aluminium industry is one of the most innovative sectors in the UAE.”
EGA’s technology development and patents involve innovations on the original core Hall-Héroult electrolytic reduction cells used by all primary aluminium smelters to produce primary aluminium metal from aluminium oxide.
EGA’s latest smelting process achieves global top quartile performance in cost, efficiency and environmental responsibility according to independent industry benchmarks. EGA’s latest technology, DX+ Ultra, has more than double the pot productivity of the company’s original D18 technology. The specific energy consumed during the smelting process is amongst the lowest in the industry.
Other recently filed EGA patents include a design that enables the quicker replacement of electrolytic reduction cells after cathode failure; cell preheat frames that are quicker and safer to install for preheating; an online measurement method to monitor and manage abnormal operating conditions; and anode current measurement methods using digital communication.
This week EGA also held a series of workshops to coincide with Innovation Week focusing on improving its “Near Miss Reporting” process. The workshops, which included participants from across the company, aimed to develop new ways to report, record and learn from near misses – incidents that could have caused injury – and highlight potential hazards to be mitigated.
Salman Abdulla (Senior Vice President, HSSEQ) commented, “Innovation Week is a great time to focus the best minds in our company on this important safety process. In industry, recognising near misses and taking corrective action is a powerful way to ensure that accidents never happen. We are always looking for ways to improve how we do this.”