Technology eliminates toxic red mud, but also retrieves rare earths and other valuable elements.
MONTREAL — Orbite Aluminae Inc. has been awarded the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Network Award, rbite Aluminae Inc. has been awarded the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Network Award, which recognizes the cleantech company’s contributions to green chemistry and engineering.
Orbite, based in Saint-Laurent, Que., was recognized for its development of a breakthrough technology in the field of alumina production and monetization of red mud and fly ash.
Alumina, the primary material used to make aluminum, is extracted from bauxite.
The industry currently uses an extraction process that generates a highly caustic waste, which is typically stored in holding ponds. Depending on the quality of the bauxite and process efficiencies, between one and two tonnes of red mud waste is generated for each tonne of alumina produced.
Orbite Aluminae’s chemical process doesn’t generate red mud. But its technology extracts alumina from red mud residue, of which up to 20% to 25% is alumina, and it retrieves any valuable elements that remain – including a high concentration of rare earths and rare-metal oxides – turning the typically costly process of storing it into a revenue generator.
The company is in the process of finalizing its first commercial high-purity alumina production plant in Cap-Chat, Que. and has completed the basic engineering for a proposed smelter-grade alumina production plant, which would use clay mined from its Grande-Vallée deposit.
The company also operates a state of the art technology development centre in Laval, Que., where its technologies are developed and validated.