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Simulation of Electrochemical Processes in Aluminum Smelting

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Simulation of Electrochemical Processes in Aluminum Smelting

  1. 1. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle LLC for the US Department of Energy Simulation of Electrochemical Processes in Aluminum Smelting AMO Internships 2021 Summer Research Presentations, August 4, 2021 Thomas Nguyen Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  2. 2. 2 2 Open slide master to edit About me • 4th year Undergraduate Student at California State University Long Beach • Majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Applied Math • Interning at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the Thermal Hydraulics group
  3. 3. 3 3 Open slide master to edit Internship Project • Collaborator: Alcoa USA corp. • Proposal Program: HPC4 Energy Innovation (USDOE-EERE*) • Goal: Adapt existing models in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with high numerical accuracy in simulating thermal, chemical, and electric effects in Alcoa’s proprietary smelting technology, using US DOE’s high-performance computing (HPC) resources • Develop HPC capable CFD models to model Alcoa’s smelting process • Use the CFD simulation results to identify and recommend improvements to Alcoa’s furnaces *EERE - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  4. 4. 4 4 Open slide master to edit A History of Aluminum • Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth • Aluminum naturally does not naturally occur as a metal • Historically aluminum was a very precious metal • The Hall-Héroult process extracted aluminum from aluminum ore making it a very cheap metal • The availability of aluminum led to the flight and the space age
  5. 5. 5 5 Open slide master to edit Conventional Smelting | Hall-Héroult process • 𝐴𝐴𝑙𝑙2𝑂𝑂3 + 3𝐶𝐶 → 2𝐴𝐴𝑙𝑙(𝑙𝑙) + 3𝐶𝐶𝑂𝑂(𝑔𝑔) or 2𝐴𝐴𝑙𝑙2𝑂𝑂3 + 3𝐶𝐶 → 4𝐴𝐴𝑙𝑙(𝑙𝑙) + 3 𝐶𝐶𝑂𝑂2(𝑔𝑔) • Alumina (Al2O3) has a very high melting temperature (2,072°C) and is dissolved in cryolite (NaF, AlF3) with a far lower melting point (850°C) • Aluminum fluoride (AlF3) is added to increase the bath’s electrical conductivity • Bath = Alumina + Cryolite
  6. 6. 6 6 Open slide master to edit Conventional Smelting | Hall-Héroult process *Videos from YouTube
  7. 7. 7 7 Open slide master to edit Undesirable Effects of Conventional Smelting • An excessive yield alumina creates sludge due to the bath’s density being greater than aluminum’s • An insufficient yield alumina results in the “anode effect” forming additional harmful greenhouse gases (𝐶𝐶2𝐹𝐹6, 𝐶𝐶𝐹𝐹4), causing over- voltage, and interruptions in production • High energy consumption Panicker, Nithin S., Rajneesh Chaudhary, Prashant K. Jain, Vivek M. Rao, and Marc O. Delchini. "COMPUTATIONALMODELING AND SIMULATION OF ALUMINIUM SMELTING PROCESS USING OPENFOAM." (2021). 5th–6thThermalFluids and Engineering Conference
  8. 8. 8 8 Open slide master to edit Software • OpenFOAM is an open-source CFD code (“FOAM”: field operation and manipulation) • Access to the source code and easier to modify than commercial CFD codes • Has history of scalability on HPC • Formulation of physics models can be modified at user-level
  9. 9. 9 9 Open slide master to edit Multiphysics Models • Interactions between phases (gas, solid, liquid) • Turbulent flow • Electromagnetism • Electrochemistry Panicker, Nithin S., Rajneesh Chaudhary, Prashant K. Jain, Vivek M. Rao, and Marc O. Delchini. "COMPUTATIONALMODELING AND SIMULATION OF ALUMINIUM SMELTING PROCESS USING OPENFOAM." (2021). 5th–6thThermalFluids and Engineering Conference
  10. 10. 10 10 Open slide master to edit Benefits of CFD simulations • Evaluate new designs at a lower cost • Investigate different operating conditions • Reduce negative effects of smelting such as excessive energy consumption and emissions
  11. 11. 11 11 Open slide master to edit Geometry of Smelting Domain Top View Side View Front View Anode (+) Cathode (-) Cathode (-) Cathode (-) Anode (+) Wall Bath Surface Wall Wall Wall Isometric View
  12. 12. 12 12 Open slide master to edit Simulation of CO2 Formation • The formation of aluminum and carbon dioxide are dependent on the electrical current • CO2 bubbles are added to the system at the anodes based on the electrical current using a source • The CO2 bubbles rise and cause the bath to circulate • 𝑂𝑂2− + 𝐶𝐶 → 𝐶𝐶𝑂𝑂(𝑔𝑔) + 2𝑒𝑒− or 2𝑂𝑂2− + 𝐶𝐶 → 𝐶𝐶𝑂𝑂2(𝑔𝑔) + 4𝑒𝑒− CO2 Formation on the Anode Anode (+) Cathode (-) Bath Surface Bath Surface Wall Wall Wall Wall
  13. 13. 13 13 Open slide master to edit Velocity Distribution Bath circulation on a central plane cutting through the anode Anode (+) Cathode (-) Bath Surface Bath Surface Wall Wall Wall Wall Anode (+) Cathode (-) Bath Surface Bath Surface Wall Wall Wall Wall
  14. 14. 14 14 Open slide master to edit Electric Current Density Electric current density on a central plane cutting the anode Anode (+) Cathode (-) Bath Surface Bath Surface Wall Wall Wall Wall Anode (+) Cathode (-) Bath Surface Bath Surface Wall Wall Wall Wall
  15. 15. 15 15 Open slide master to edit Profiles in Anode-Cathode Distance (ACD) Velocity profiles on a plane bisecting the ACD Anode (+) Cathode (-)
  16. 16. 16 16 Open slide master to edit Profiles in Anode-Cathode Distance (ACD) Electric current density on a plane bisecting the ACD Anode (+) Cathode (-)
  17. 17. 17 17 Open slide master to edit Profiles on Anode Surface CO2 evolution on anode surface Electric current density on anode surface Anode Anode
  18. 18. 18 18 Open slide master to edit Scope of Work for Internship • Travel to ORNL (August 9-10, 2021) • Workshop on GPU basics at ORNL • Advanced CAD modeling strategies • Improve analytical skills with advanced CFD applications • Gain proficiency with batch scripting for HPC systems • Extend statistical tools to coursework • Apply internship experience to Honors thesis
  19. 19. 19 19 Open slide master to edit Acknowledgements • US DOE – EERE for internship opportunity • ORISE for mediating internship • ORNL Thermal Hydraulics Group (Host: Marc-Olivier G. Delchini, PhD) • NREL for access to Eagle HPC
  20. 20. 20 20 Open slide master to edit Q&A

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