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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Aluminium: Latest News: January 4th 2010


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:: Breakthrough in Chemical Processing Robotics

Alcoa have announced the development of the ROXAN system, said to be one of the most complex chemical processing robots in the world.

The Robotic Oxalate Analysis (ROXAN) system was designed by the company's Western Australia-based Technology Delivery Group (TDG) in collaboration with local industry.

Alcoa said it had already been used to boost performance of several of its alumina refineries, including the Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup operations.

According to the company, the robot carries out the complex chemical preparation required for the analysis of oxalate, which is an extremely important impurity in the alumina refining process.

The analysis is oxalate analysis is used to optimise refinery performance.

The system is designed to prevent any human and machine interaction, so it can potentially eliminate a number of potential occupational risks, including exposure to fumes and repetitive strain injuries, the company said.

TDG program manager Dr Michael Nunes said the robot was already saving millions of dollars.

"We simply could not afford to do the number of analyses we currently do without the new robot," he said.

"The robot can work overnight, so therefore has the ability to prepare 500 samples in any 24 hour period, which significantly helps us to meet project needs.

"This is important because it frees up our scientists to be working on other new discoveries."

According to Nunes, the system took about two years to design and build.




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