Rio Tinto and the University Centre for Research on aluminum (CURAL) of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi confirmed Wednesday the renewal of a research agreement with a duration of five years. During this period, the multinational will pay a $ three million financial assistance to support the work of students and professors who work in the sector of the separation of solids and liquids.
This research program, whose basic objectives are to improve the productivity and efficiency of the bauxite alumina transformation process was initiated in 1998 by the two partners. This has led to the construction of the Rio Tinto industrial research complex on the site of UQAC to establish CURAL.
According to the head of the Centre for Research and Development in Rio Tinto, Frédéric Laroche, the work of researchers CURAL largely focused on the most complex phases of the processing of bauxite into alumina. This is a complex process that converts four tonnes of earth in two tons of alumina which, once passed in the electrolysis process, will give a tonne of aluminum. Rio Tinto is still trying to improve these critical phases of transformation in order to improve the performance of its plants.
“The projects identified by the CURAL in pursuing its mandate with Rio Tinto are primarily the growth of our programs focusing on bauxite and alumina, and the consolidation of our technological leadership in the aluminum industry,” said the boss of the Arvida research center.
The research conducted at CURAL had immediate benefits for the multinational. The plant in Vaudreuil Jonquière complex displays currently cost processing of bauxite into alumina lowest among the company’s factories.
CURAL could hardly exist without the presence nearby of the most important plant chemicals Canada. Vaudreuil represents a natural laboratory where researchers discoveries are applied after the various applied research performed in the laboratory.
“The reputation of CURAL is unquestionably the result of a juncture between the presence of talented researchers and the provision of high-level challenges by the aluminum industry. In this sense, Rio Tinto has had a major impact on the development of our expertise. In the field of solid-liquid separation, CURAL expertise has enabled advances in technology advanced, which are among the most advanced in the world, “said the director of CURAL Daniel Marceau.
Professor and researcher involved in the work of CURAL, Guy Simard, was visibly pleased with the conclusion of a new agreement for the next five years. The researcher explained that time was needed to complete a research project from the idea that pops into the head of a person. CURAL therefore offers the opportunity to realize all phases of research with the added project industrial deployment thanks to the proximity of a processing plant.
According to the professor, the links between the two organizations have always been based on a partnership that basically meet the missions of the two organizations. UQAC that niche uses for the graduation of students at all levels and Rio Tinto for its part uses the results of the work to improve the production in its facilities.
CURAL specializes in studies on the improvement of the bauxite processing methods and has currently no research project on the valuation of residues of this process. Work on recovery are performed in-house at Rio Tinto or groups who believe they have a solution that would provide economically production of these residues.