GE to Partner with Indian Institute to Develop Experimental Digital Aluminium Smelter

GE to Partner with Indian Institute to Develop Experimental Digital Aluminium Smelter
Chital (spotted deer) at IIT Madras in Chennai, in the open ground between SAC and the stadium. Source: Wikimedia

American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) announced on Tuesday that it will be establishing an Industrial Internet Centre of Excellence (CoE) at Indian Institute of Technology Madras, a public engineering and research institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The CoE will be tasked with developing power intensive applications, focusing initially on rolling out a digital twin of an aluminium smelter.

The twin smelter will be a digital model of an actual smelter created using artificial intelligence and physics-based models. GE says it will exist in the cloud, continually generating new data and unique insights. The knowledge gained by experimenting with the digital smelter is expected to help operators of real smelters run them in a more efficient manner.

General Electric is expected to invest US$4.5 million in the project over a five-year period. The digital smelter is slated to become operational this November, and it has the potential to save the aluminium smelting business a bundle. According to GE, a 1% increase in the digital smelter’s efficiency could boost real-world efficiency by up to 20%. Translated into dollars and cents, that could net the industry a savings of between US$50 million and US$150 million per annum.

“Digitization is the future of industry and the agreement with IIT Madras underlines our commitment to building industry-academia linkages to support digital industrial transformation,” explained Azeez Mohammed, president & CEO, GE Power Services, MEA.

“Our faculty and researchers have in-depth understanding of physics-based process modelling,” said Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT Madras. “This is a remarkable opportunity for us to collaborate with GE’s global team of experts to develop path-breaking solutions for the smelter industry.”

Founded by the Indian government in 1959 with technical and financial assistance from the former government of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), IIT Madras offers its students education and research facilities in engineering and technology.