The “Robustness” project marks a return to R&D for Grande-Baie Works, after a break of a few years. The initiative now being implemented aims to identify a smelting pot design for the P155 technology with an operating window that is better adapted to current amperages.
To achieve this aim, the researchers will closely monitor the operation of three groups of five pots. Two of these groups feature improvements (to the potlining, for the most part) that may increase their productivity, while the third group will continue to operate as usual, serving as a point of comparison.
The performance of these pots will be monitored by an impressive instrumentation system. “We’re talking about 60 or so instrumentation points,” explained Alexandre Blais, Project Manager at ARDC. “Most of them will remain in operation for the entire life of the pot, while others will be in place for the startup period alone.” To give an idea of the scale of this system, bear in mind that the pots currently in operation have only six instrumentation points, three of which are permanent.
The instrumentation of these pots will allow us to observe how they are performing at any given time using our ARDC computers or even a smartphone,” Blais continued. “It’s an extremely powerful system.”
Tony Houde, Black Belt at Grande-Baie Works, pointed out that the project has been very well received on the ground. “It’s going very well. The project presents some logistical challenges, but our people are very agile in finding solutions. Our ARDC co-workers have said that they have been warmly welcomed and have received a lot of support.”
Houde added, “The Smelting teams and the Pot Relining Centre had to work extra hard to contribute to the project without slowing the pace of metal production. We had to find the best ways to accomplish this in a situation where our facility was running at full capacity.”
The preparation and startup of these 15 pots began in March and will be completed this fall. Data collection is scheduled to start toward the end of 2021, followed by a pot measurement campaign in early 2022 and a detailed performance report later in the year.
The smelter will have the tools needed for relining the P155 pots, which will make these pots even more efficient in the future. We would like to take this opportunity to commend the successful collaboration of all the smelter teams, the ARDC and the Smelting Operational Excellence team.