Could hydrogen bring us one step closer to green aluminium?

Mining group Rio Tinto has partnered with ARENA to explore whether hydrogen can replace natural gas in alumina refineries to reduce emissions

The Big Zero report

Mining group Rio Tinto has teamed up with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to study whether hydrogen can replace natural gas in alumina refining to drive down carbon dioxide emissions.

Alumina, which is also known as aluminum oxide, is produced from an ore that is mined in various regions – through an electrolytic process, alumina is smelted to give aluminium.

Rio Tinto will conduct an AUD$1.2 million (£860,000) feasibility study into using clean hydrogen instead of natural gas in the calcination process of refining at its Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said: “If we can replace fossil fuels with clean hydrogen in the refining process for alumina, this will reduce emissions in the energy and emissions-intensive refining stage of the aluminium supply chain.

“Exploring these new clean energy technologies and methods is a crucial step towards producing green aluminium.”

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