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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Australasia: October 16th 2007


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:: ABB Cuts Costs at Australian Minerals Processing Site

An ABB process optimization solution with a unique stop-start predictive control capability has achieved annual savings of $450,000 and significantly improved process stability at an Australian minerals processing facility.

The customized ABB solution has enabled minerals giant Iluka to reduce the consumption of gas, acid and lime by as much as 13 percent at its Narngulu mineral processing facility in Western Australia.

“These are significant savings for what undoubtedly is one of the most complex industrial applications of model predictive control in the world," says Doug Clark, senior process engineer for ABB Process Automation.

Narngulu produces 240,000 metric tons of synthetic rutile a year for use in the manufacture of white pigment for paints, plastics, paper and other products. ABB’s task was to optimize the control of the rotary kilns to improve output and quality, and to stabilize the intricate wet process by scheduling operations in real time and reducing the number of stoppages.

The production of synthetic rutile at Narngulu is a highly complex process that takes up to 24 hours to complete, with a wet section consisting of 22 batch reaction tanks followed by downstream processing.

Prior to ABB’s optimization of the process in 2006, production was subject to frequent stoppages due to the difficulty of scheduling the tanks, not all of which contain the same product grade. This had a negative impact on product quality and production costs.

Based on ABB’s market-leading suite of optimization systems for the cement and minerals industries - Expert Optimizer™ and Economic Process Optimization - the solution predicts the evolution of the process over the coming 40 hours. It calculates the best operating strategy over that period, including when to stop and restart critical process stages like aeration, cycloning, leaching and drying in order to achieve optimal scheduling.

This stop-start predictive control capability is unique to Expert Optimizer and has enabled Iluka to significantly reduce the consumption of acid (used in leaching), lime (neutralization) and gas (drying). The value of these savings, as measured by the customer, is $450,000 a year.

Iluka estimates that the solution has achieved additional savings of $590,000 a year in the consumption of electric power.

Expert Optimizer is the world’s leading optimization system for the cement and minerals industries, installed in more than 140 sites worldwide.




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