Rio Tinto Yarwun is looking for solutions for robotic tank cleaning. The scope of this business problem requires the successful partner to develop a robotic or remote technology solution(s) that can remove bauxite residue and hard scale from inside large storage tanks.
We are looking for technologies and partners to help develop capabilities that will:
Yarwun is committed to exceeding the mandatory requirements to operate within its license conditions or with regards to regulations. As such, our site takes the approach that we are obligated to adopt ‘best practical means’ to minimise emissions and environmental impacts. This will require the solution to adhere to all air, water and noise regulations, and environmental licencing.
In an alumina refinery, it is common for parts of the plant and equipment to experience various types of build-up, such as bauxite residue (also known as ‘red mud’) and hard scale.
The build-up can reduce production flows and affect equipment reliability, while also presenting certain risks for people during the cleaning process. These risks include: potential caustic contact, working in confined spaces and working from heights. This is particularly problematic inside large storage tanks such as water tanks, cooling towers, washers, liquor tanks and precipitators.
Each year, our refineries complete a number of maintenance shutdown periods to remove build-up from equipment. We are currently seeking a solution(s) that utilises robotics or remote technology to clean these large storage tanks; ideally removing the human element of this work and reducing the risks associated with tank cleaning. The solution should be safe, environmentally sound and cost-effective.
Cleaning is currently undertaken using one of a number of processes based on the waste in the tank:
Access is often gained only via a restrictive access hatch requiring confined space safety procedures. The solution will need to suit this schedule.
The benefits we are seeking with this solution include:
The initial trial for the solution would be for the precipitation tanks at our Yarwun alumina refinery. If successful, this improvement could be applied globally.
Our Yarwun alumina refinery is located in Gladstone, Queensland, approximately 550 kilometres north of Brisbane. The plant operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Maintenance shutdowns are undertaken periodically during the year and staggered across several stages of the refining process.
The Yarwun plant has 42 precipitator tanks, each of 4,500 m3 nominal capacity with dimensions approximately 14.5 meters diameter x 30 meters high. The tanks operate at a temperature of approximately 60 degrees Celsius, with a liquor flow of 5,000 m3/hour.
Rio Tinto is a mining and metals company operating in around 36 countries around the world. Our purpose is to produce the materials essential to human progress.
Our four product groups bring this purpose to life: Aluminium, Copper & Diamonds, Energy & Minerals and Iron Ore. These are complemented by our Growth & Innovation and Commercial groups, as well as our service and support functions.
The Yarwun alumina refinery is part of the Aluminium product group and located in Gladstone, Queensland, approximately 550 kilometres north of Brisbane. The plant operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Further information is available on the Rio Tinto website https://www.riotinto.com
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