Rio Tinto partners with ARENA to reduce emissions in alumina refineries

Rio Tinto has partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to study whether hydrogen can replace natural gas in alumina refineries to reduce emissions. Rio Tinto will conduct AUD 1.2 million feasibility study, equally funded with ARENA through a $580,000 grant, into using clean hydrogen to replace natural gas in the calcination process of refining at the Yarwun aumina refinery in Gladstone.

The study program includes work to be done at Rio Tinto’s Bundoora Technical Development Centre in Melbourne, where Rio Tinto’s in-house development capability has now been extended to hydrogen.

The study comprises two distinct work packages:

  1. Preliminary engineering and design study conducted to understand the construction and operational requirements of a potential demonstration project at the Yarwun alumina refinery
  2. Simulating the calcination process using a lab scale reactor at the Bundoora Technical Development Centre

Once complete, the study will inform the viability of a potential demonstration project. Rio Tinto has lodged patents for the hydrogen calcination process.

Rio Tinto is aiming to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Across the company, it is targeting a 15% reduction in absolute emissions and a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.

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