Brazil
Press Release

Alcoa inaugurates its first filtration plant in Brazil

Bnamericas Published: Friday, November 18, 2022

By Alcoa

November 18, 2022

This is a machine translation of the press release originally published in Portuguese. 

Now operating on two continents, Alcoa has successfully completed the installation of Filter Press technology for bauxite waste at our Poços de Caldas refinery in Brazil, further leveraging the technology that Alcoa used for the first time in Australia.

"We are very proud of our team and the work done to achieve our corporate vision of reinventing the aluminum industry for a more sustainable future," said Fabio Martins, manager of Fábrica de Poços. "By implementing this technology, we are marking a new era of innovation and sustainability for Alcoa in Brazil. In addition to innovation in the process, the installation of the press filter will reduce carbon emissions, due to less use of the waste area, less accumulation of water and, consequently, less energy consumption in the process."

The filter press is Alcoa's first in Brazil, allowing our facilities to use less water to process the waste and less area to store it. Alcoa first implemented this technology for the treatment of bauxite waste at its Pinjarra and Kwinana refineries in Western Australia. These two refineries have the capacity to reduce their water usage by a total of 2.2 gigaliliters (581 million gallons), an amount of water equivalent to filling 880 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The Filter Press processes the residue, which is mainly composed of red mud. The residue is pumped into the filter, where the plates compact it, removing approximately 70% of the moisture. The recovered water is then returned to the refinery's production process through a closed circuit. The residue that remains has a moisture content similar to the soil, which is then trucked to a new dry disposal area for further compaction.

Globally, the deployment of this innovation ties in with Alcoa's long-term strategic goal of reducing its bauxite waste storage areas by 15% by 2030 compared to 2015. Further improvements are expected with enhanced solar drying and adaptation of waste filtration technologies.

Construction of the filter press facility in Brazil began in late 2021. Today, all bauxite residue from the refinery is being processed through the filter press system to produce dry residue. The team worked over 800,000 hours over the entire project period without a security incident.

The reduction of bauxite residue is also one of several process improvements that Alcoa is developing for its Refinery of the Future project, which seeks to decarbonize on a scale and deliver a competitive refinery that can eliminate fossil fuels from the refining process and other operational improvements.

Poços de Caldas, Alcoa's first operation in Brazil, was put into operation in 1965. The operations include mining, refinery, chemical, remelting and aluminum powder operations – the only Alcoa system in the world.

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