A few weeks ago, Rio Tinto, in collaboration with AluQuébec and the Réseau de la transformation métallique du Québec, launched the Aluminium-Scandium Quebec Challenge. The challenge was aimed at all Quebec innovators and was designed to encourage the development of new applications for aluminium-scandium alloys. At the end of the first stage of the challenge, three teams were selected to continue the journey and bring their projects to life.
In the first stage, which was launched on 11 August, participating teams had to submit a description of their proposed approach to effectively use the alloys. Of the 15 teams who submitted concepts, the following three came out on top to continue to develop their projects:
- The Grant-Emad-Quan team from UQAC, made up of Quan Shao, Emad Elgallad and X.-Grant Chen, for their proposal on high thermal resistance conductors (titled “Conducteurs à haute résistance thermique”)
- The Ferreol Skis team, made up of Félix Lapointe and Philippe Gosselin, for their proposal on using aluminium-scandium alloys to revolutionise the ski industry (titled “Le ScandAl pour révolutionner l’industrie du ski”)
- The EV Technologies team, made up of Nicolas Brisson and Vincent Darlix, for their proposal on using scandium in high-performance batteries (titled “Batteries hautes performances”)
One of the winning teams, the Ferreol Skis, is currently working with Rio Tinto’s Regional Economic Development to further develop its concept and demonstrate its potential for the aluminium industry.
A two-stage competition
The second stage was launched on Monday 6 December and gives the three teams a chance to show the feasibility of the innovative ideas that earned them recognition in the first stage. Each of these teams was awarded $25,000 to support the development of a proof of concept using Rio Tinto’s Al2%Sc master alloy. If the innovation proves to be technically and economically feasible, one of the three teams selected in this second round could have the opportunity to market their application with a grant of up to $100,000. Rio Tinto will also provide the winner with technical support and the opportunity to collaborate with Rio Tinto’s research and development scientists and engineers.
High-purity scandium oxide is extracted from the waste stream of titanium dioxide production using an innovative process developed by Rio Tinto Fer et Titane without needing further extraction. This valuable oxide is then reduced by a metallurgical process to obtain an Al2%Sc master alloy for customers. This commercial product is the result of a collective effort that brought together many players such as the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane teams, the Arvida Research and Development Centre, the technical team at Dubuc Works, the Rio Tinto Aluminium Commercial Group, and Regional Economic Development.
The addition of scandium to aluminium alloys is promising, as it has several positive effects on properties. Scandium is now making its way into the production of value-added aluminium products, reflecting the evolution of industrial processes, which are constantly being improved.
Congratulations to all the proud ambassadors of change who participated in the challenge.