The aluminium smelter as “virtual battery”

An aluminium smelter that has been converted into a virtual battery functions like a huge and intelligent energy storage facility. In order to test the new process on an industrial scale, TRIMET Aluminium SE repurposed 120 furnaces in an electrolysis hall at the Essen location. The “virtual battery” of this test series has a “storage” capacity of approximately 1,120 megawatt hours, equivalent to that of a medium-sized pumped-storage power plant, combined with an efficiency level of up to 95 percent.

The most important components of the reengineering are:

  1. Cladding the electrolysis cells in newly developed heat exchangers. These dissipate heat when the energy input is increased, and insulate the electrolysis furnace under a lower energy input.
  2. Measures for compensating disruptive magnetic field influences resulting from fluctuating power consumption. To this end, the electrolysis cells’ conductor rail system must be extensively modified.
  3. A completely new process control concept using innovative measuring and control technology, as well as comprehensive process models to optimize electrolysis performance under flexibility conditions.

As an total package, these measures are not only revolutionizing aluminium production, but also making a significant contribution to the success of the energy turnaround.

KlimaExpo.NRW has received funding for the implementation of the interim presentation from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).