ABx Aluminium Recycling Gets a Boost from Government Grant of $3.3 Million
- 18-Jan-2023 2:22 PM
- Journalist: Gabreilla Figueroa
Sydney (Australia): The federal government's Modern Manufacturing Initiative, or "MMI" program, has awarded ABx Group's 83 percent owned subsidiary, Alcore an initial payment of $3.3 million towards a total of almost $7.6 million for the development of an Aluminium bath recycling plant at Bell Bay in Tasmania.
The MMI provides matched funding support for large-scale manufacturing projects that offer sector-wide benefits that are beneficial to the national interest. Despite already beginning work on a pilot plant in NSW, Alcore has chosen Tasmania due to its proximity to a major Aluminium smelter and the ready supply of waste product.
Excess bath from Aluminium smelter to be transformed into Aluminium Fluoride for use in smelting, Ceramic Glazes and Enamels, Pharmaceuticals, Food and Beverage.
The pilot plant at Alcore will take waste product from an Aluminium smelter, known as excess bath, and use it to recover fluorine which will then be converted into hydrogen fluoride. Through further reactions in the industrial facility, the hydrogen fluoride will be turned into Aluminium fluoride - a lucrative chemical used in aluminium smelting as well as ceramic glazes and enamels.
The pharmaceutical, food and beverage sectors are also mentioned as potential markets for the product of this process while its use as a separator material for lithium-ion batteries is being explored by the company.
At present, Australia has no active Aluminium fluoride plants and must source these materials through imports instead.
Alcore developing process to Extract Fluorine from waste materials and produce Aluminium Fluoride.
ABx Group's subsidiary, Alcore is developing the "Alcore process" which recovers fluorine from an array of resources - including waste materials - to produce Aluminium fluoride. The first step of the process involves producing oleum, a highly concentrated sulfuric acid. Following this, oleum is reacted with excess bath in order to extract the fluorine and form Aluminium fluoride.
To-date, ABx has been fine tuning the Alcore process with engineering partner BFluor Chemicals and recently commissioned three reactors in a technology centre on the NSW Central Coast. Two of these reactors can produce enough oleum for bath testing while the third is used to review a wider range of processes.
After securing the first phase of funding, ABx Group CEO Dr Mark Cooksey remarked “Receiving this initial $3.3m grant funding is an exciting milestone for Alcore and provides further certainty to the construction of the pilot plant on the NSW Central Coast, which is already underway.”
It is estimated that around 1.2 million tonnes of Aluminium fluoride are produced annually, and the industry is valued at roughly US$1.5 billion when commodity prices range from US$1000 to US$1800 per tonne.