THE University of Limerick is leading a major European partnership to address the environmental impact of alumina production waste.
The partnership entitled BRAVO (Bauxite Residue and Aluminium Valorisation Operations), co-ordinated by UL is one of the largest commitments of its kind with over 30 partner members including Industry representatives, SMEs, and leading universities and institutes throughout Ireland and the EU.
Coordinator, Dr Lisa O’Donoghue, Department of Design and Manufacturing Technology, UL explained: “Alumina processing creates a waste by-product called bauxite residue (red mud), which is normally landfilled. It is estimated that globally there are currently over 2.7 billion tonnes of bauxite residue stored in landfill and this is estimated to increase by 120 million tonnes annually.
“There is, however a huge potential to reuse this material as a valuable raw material for other industries such as cement, ceramics and electronics. This partnership has been set up to address a serious environmental issue while also providing the opportunity to generate spin-off industries in the alternative supply of key materials for the European market.”
Ireland houses one of Europe’s largest alumina refineries in Co Limerick with an annual production capacity of 1,990,000 tonnes of alumina and employing approimately 450 people. The refinery produces approximately one million tonnes of bauxite residue annually.