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:: ABB automates world’s largest alumina plant
An ABB plant-wide automation system has helped Alunorte Brazil boost production capacity by 75 percent and become the largest, most technologically advanced alumina refinery in the world.
The solution is based on ABB’s award-winning System 800xA extended automation system and equips Alunorte with a unique capability to control, manage and optimize the plant’s thousands of field devices, regardless of manufacturer.
The $800-million Phase III expansion consists of two new production lines (Nos. 4 and 5) that significantly raise capacity at the plant from 2.4 to 4.2 million tons of alumina a year, making it the largest alumina refinery in the world.
Working closely with Alunorte, ABB completed the commissioning of the system in just 20 weeks, enabling the two lines to go quickly onstream and reach full production speed in record time. Ramp up to full production usually takes several months, but the unique capability of System 800xA enabled it to be completed in an unprecedented 12 days.
The entire refinery - including all five production lines, the material handling systems and harbor - is controlled, monitored and optimized by ABB automation systems. With only one shutdown in 12 years (planned and for just eight hours), Alunorte has operated at close to 100 percent availability since 1994.
“The ABB control systems have contributed much to increasing production and to achieving the results obtained by Alunorte during its 12 years of operation." Carlos Roberto Abrunheiro Trinidade Alunorte Manager
The ABB solution for the two new production lines integrates 35 different types of intelligent field device (protection relays, frequency converters, process analyzers, etc) made by 11 different manufacturers.
Staff can access the technical and operational data for all devices with a single click of the mouse and perform advanced asset management procedures like monitoring the performance and energy consumption of each instrument.
Functions like these provide Alunorte with the ability to manage each item of equipment and ensure it is operating optimally and at a level of cost efficiency not previously possible.
Further expansion of Alunorte is already underway. Two additional lines will increase production capacity to 6.26 million tons in mid-2008. The refinery will be linked by a 244-kilometer pipeline - the first of its kind in the world - through which up to 14.4 million tons of bauxite a year will be delivered from the Paragominas bauxite mine.
ABB has been selected to supply complete automation solutions for both the mine and the pipeline, making the entire Alunorte –pipeline– Parogominas chain one of the largest upstream automation projects ever undertaken.
Alunorte is jointly owned by CVRD (57 percent), Norsk Hydro (34 percent), and other partners. Paragominas and the pipeline are both owned by CVRD.
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