IIT-Kharagpur Vedanta Aluminium develop innovative bauxite refining process

New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI) IIT-Kharagpur and Vedanta Aluminium have developed a process to significantly reduce the generation of bauxite residue, commonly known as red mud, in the alumina refining process.
    According to officials, the patented process reduces bauxite residue by a remarkable 30 per cent by eliminating iron values while simultaneously recovering a higher alumina yield, reducing the total organic content of bauxite during the alumina refining.
    The process significantly enhances resource efficiency and curbs energy consumption during refining.
    The project was led by the Research and Development Department of Vedanta, the country's leading aluminium producer, in collaboration with the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur.
    "The reduction of bauxite residue has been one of the key challenges for the aluminium industry, requiring significant technological advancements. The process, developed through the collaborative efforts, will not only significantly improve bauxite residue management but also contribute to reducing the carbon footprint in the process," said Chenna Rao Borra, IIT-Kharagpur.
    Bauxite is the primary ore for aluminium, and it undergoes an intermediate refining stage, known as the Bayer process, to produce alumina, which is then subjected to electrolysis to produce aluminium, officials said.
    This refining process generates bauxite residue as a by-product. To produce 1 kg of aluminium, it requires 2 kg of alumina, which consumes 6 kg of bauxite, leaving behind 4 kg of bauxite residue. Managing this voluminous by-product sustainably has been a long-standing industry challenge, they said.
    "We look forward to implementing our groundbreaking process in bauxite residue management in our refinery operations. This is a significant milestone that will offer a pathway to enhanced resource efficiency and energy conservation and contribute towards reshaping the global aluminium industry," said Amit Chatterjee, Chief Research and Development Officer, Aluminium Business, Vedanta Ltd.

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