Historically, aluminum smelters have been designed for continuous operation. The nature of the process and the non-availability of inert materials make it difficult to modulate the process. The cryolite melt that enables the reduction process must be operated near its freezing point with a superheat of less than 10°C. Just a few hours of power outage can cause a disaster with the complete loss of a production line and typical damage in excess of $ 100 million.
It is therefore a prerequisite to control the superheat very well before starting to modulate the potlines. As soon as this is possible, a smelter can act as a giant battery on the electrical grid.
The transition from industrial societies from conventional electricity to renewable energies requires a new way of thinking. In the past, all strategies were designed for efficiency and low energy consumption. However, a system based on wind and sun requires the flexibility of the consumer. Therefore flexibility and process monitoring must be embedded in every step.
The Dutch aluminum smelter has developed a long-term strategy for the green future of the smelter. With its ideal location on the coast of the North Sea and in close proximity to huge wind farms, it is a natural place for a flexible smelter.