Technology improvement over recent decades has drastically reshaped many aspects of our lives. Computing and telecommunications advancements for example have made social interactions virtually unrecognisable. Emergent technologies such as self-driving vehicles look likely to reshape the world further.
The Bayer Process for alumina production, relative to forty years ago, remains somewhat disappointingly recognisable.
In forty years’ time what could a modern alumina refinery look like? What are the research and development initiatives needed to support significant change, and is there sufficient business case to fund this R&D? Are we destined to remain disappointed with the rate of technological improvement?
This paper reviews the major innovations delivered over the last forty years and contemplates future directions for step changes in capital cost, operating cost and EHS performance.