Quebec Firm Announces Progress on Pollution-Free Alumina Extraction Process

Montreal cleantech company Orbite Technologies Inc. announced progress in the development of a new alumina extraction process.

The eponymous process has been developed as a pollution-free alternative to the nearly ubiquitous Bayer Process and uses hydrochloric acid that is entirely recovered at the end of the process instead of sodium hydroxide (a/k/a lye or caustic soda).

According to the firm, two metric tons of high-purity alumina (HPA) has been produced so far. The feedstock material fed to the calcination section of the plant was made up of aluminum chloride hexahydrate (“ACH”) of 4N7 (HPA equivalent), which means that there was an extremely low amount of impurities in the batch. The HPA produced was assessed at the same level of purity.

Based upon these results, the firm says it will be able to produce HPA at a purity level at or above 5N upon the introduction of higher-purity ACH into the calcination section.

In addition, Orbite indicates that it can produce HPA at lower-than-expected temperatures, thus saving on operating costs. The firm also announced that it has obtained its first orders for HPA once it begins production at commercial volumes.

“Relative purity parity between ACH crystals and HPA is something we had hoped for, and we are pleased to have achieved this so early in the use of the calcination system,” said Orbite‚Äôs CEO Glenn Kelly. “Additionally, our ability to produce HPA at lower temperatures than originally anticipated is likely to make a positive contribution towards our bottom line once we are in full commercial operation. These recent results, we believe, continue to provide confirmation of the strength of the process. With the restart of the calcination system, our next step will be to ramp up production to commercial output of 1 tpd over the coming weeks and to nameplate capacity thereafter. Finally, we are pleased to have booked our first two commercial orders. While relatively small at this stage of the relationship with these customers, these orders are within our anticipated sales price range and signal the true commencement of our commercial activities. We expect orders for larger quantities as production grows.”

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