India’s aluminum sector aims to go green

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Aluminum is suddenly the new buzzword in India.

In the last 2-3 months, there has been a lot of activity in the Indian aluminum sector, much of it propelled by India’s ongoing quest for clean and green tech.

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For starters, news has just broken that the Indian Railways, one of the world’s largest rail networks, is looking to manufacture India’s first aluminum body train coaches.

The Railway Board has approved the manufacturing of 500 aluminum body coaches in India.

The report notes the coaches were expected to be manufactured in the year 2021-2022 after Transfer of Technology (ToT) from South Korean firm Dawonsys, for which a contract has been awarded.

The Railways is moving on because it feels the aluminum-bodied coaches would be superior to the stainless steel rolling stock.

On the other side, state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will soon be setting up a factory to make aluminum-air batteries for electric vehicles in India, Inc42 reported. The move comes after IOC picked up a stake recently in the Israel-based battery maker Phinergy. Both are scouting for partners for the factory, and are said to be in talks with governments.

R Sravan S Rao, executive director and state head at IOC, said such batteries could be an alternative to the present lithium-based ones.

The metal-air batteries produce energy by oxidizing metals such as iron, zinc and aluminum. While such batteries cannot be recharged, they can be almost instantly replaced, making it far more convenient for users.

IOC is reported to be in talks with many Indian automobile manufacturers to start field trials for the metal-air batteries.

While such companies are contemplating using aluminum in some unique products, a few days ago, Vedanta Limited announced a tie-up with GE to install digital smelters in its aluminum plants in the eastern province of Odisha, TechGraph reported.

Both GE and Vedanta Ltd’s aluminum and power business have signed an agreement. It will significantly increase its operational efficiency and productivity of the plant.

A statement by Vedanta said this would be the first of such deployments of digital twin technology at an aluminum smelter in India, and is part of Vedanta’s long-term digital transformation initiatives.

There is also a similar move to add tech services to National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO) alumina refinery expansion, again in Odisha. Outotec has been awarded a €15 million order by for the delivery of technology and services, Aluminium Today reported.

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Outotec’s scope of delivery covers the engineering of two alumina calciners and hydrate filtration plants, supply of key equipment, as well as advisory services for installation and commissioning. The new plants will increase NALCO’s annual alumina production approximately by 1 million tons, according to the report.

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