Orbite's High Purity Alumina (HPA) Plant, Quebec, Canada

 

 
 

Orbite Aluminae

Orbite Aluminae (Orbite), a clean technology company based in Canada, is constructing a high purity alumina (HPA) plant at Cap-Chat in the Gaspe region of Quebec.

"The HPA produced by the plant will have a purity level of at least 99.99%. The purity level is expected to increase over time."

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility took place in June 2012. The construction will be completed by December 2012. Commercial operations are expected to start by early 2013.

The plant is expected to produce three tons of HPA each day during the initial stages, which will be expanded to five tons a day by 2015.

The HPA produced by the plant will have a purity level of at least 99.99%. The purity level is expected to increase over time.

The investment for the construction of the HPA plant is estimated at between $26m and $30m after refundable taxcredits, which are subject to approval by government authorities.

HPA plant location and market proximity

The HPA plant is being built as an inclusion to Orbite's existing HPA pilot plant in Cap-Chat. The new facility will turn the pilot plant into a complete state-of-the-art facility.

The feedstock for the plant will be aluminous clay, fly ash, red mud, argillite and bauxite. The aluminous clay, which is the primary feedstock for the production of HPA, will be delivered from Orbite's Grande-Valee site in Quebec.

The Grand-Valee site's proximity to several ports and the St. Lawrence River provides easy transportation of HPA to various markets around North America.

Purpose of the high purity alumina complex

Orbite is constructing the new facility owing to the growing demand for LED-based lighting systems over the CFL and incandescent lighting systems on the market.

"The HPA plant is being built as an inclusion to Orbite's existing HPA pilot plant in Cap-Chat."

HPA is a major component used in the manufacturing of LED-based lighting systems. The LED systems currently make use of 50% of the overall HPA production in the market, which is expected to further grow to 60% by 2015.

Orbite will be the sole producer of HPA in North America if the plant begins commercial production.

HPA is also used in the manufacturing of semi conductors, phosphor products, lithium-ion batteries, automative sensors, high-pressure sodium vapour lamp tubes, synthetic sapphires, high tech lasers and polishing of optic andelectronic equipments. It is also used in the production of video and computer equipments.

Construction and technology at Orbite's plant

The construction of the HPA plant includes foundation and exterior works, plus installation of processing equipments such as water treatment units, conveyors, processing tanks, compressors, evaporators, product containers, large glass-lined leaching equipment and a number of mechanical and electrical systems.

Orbite will use its patented technology to produce alumina using clay as feedstock. It will be an environmentally-friendlyproduction process, which will not generate toxic red mud compared to the conventional Bayer process of alumina production.

The patented technology can also be used for the production of alumina using red mud, bauxite and argillite as feedstock.

Producing HPA at Orbite's Canadian facility

"The plant is expected to produce three tons of HPA each day during the initial stages."

The production process of HPA begins with the pre-treatment of clay through crushing and grinding to get a particular particle size for leaching.

Particles are then leached using hydrochloric acid, causing all metals except chloride solutions to dissolve. The insoluble titanium and silica are removed through filtration.

The next step involves separation and precipitation of iron using a medium reaction, where aluminium hydroxide is extracted. The aluminium hydroxide then undergoes calcination to produce alumina. Hydrochloric acid is also recovered and regenerated during this process.

Orbite has also developed a new process technology for the production of alumina in September 2012. The new patented technology is capable of producing alumina using fly ash as feedstock.

Key players for the Quebec-based project

Gastier has been contracted to manage the project. The company will also be involved in making necessary preparations for the plant's commissioning.

The design and construction work of the project is being carried out by the Canam Group. Outotec will be responsible for carrying out the calcination work. A rotary tube and vertical furnace are being provided by Harper.

Emerson Process Management will provide the process control instrumentation for the plant. Emerson, along with Laurentide Controls, will also assist Orbite in enhancing the profitability of the patented process control extraction technology. They will be responsible for assuring the efficiency and safety of the plant's operation and also look at possible means of reducing operating costs.