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Amplats to begin generating its own power through wasted heat

On Monday, platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), together with Vuselela Energy and H1 Holdings, unveiled its ZAR150 million ($10.677m) co-generation power plant at its Waterval Smelting Complex in Rustenburg.

The 5MW clean power plant, Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting project, has been supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) through its ZAR30 million ($2.134m) grant, which facilitates the development of infrastructure, critical for the growth of the South African economy.

The power project was commissioned in June 2015 and according to Amplats it is “an innovation in the field of energy efficiency and a first of its kind co-generation power plant in South Africa, creating cleaner and inexpensive power for the Company’s general consumption.”

Amplats: clean power technology

The power plants operate by utilising the wasted heat from the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) convertor cooling circuit to evaporate an organic liquid and drive an expansion turbine, Amplats explained in a statement.

The platinum producer announced that of the generated 5MW, 4.3MW is fed back into the grid, lessening the company’s dependency on the national grid.

Jacques Malan Director at Eternity Power and Vuselela Energy, said: “The set of technologies used at the Eternity Power clean energy plant had not previously been used in a smelter environment and a significant amount of novel work was done to design the integration of the technology into the smelter complex and to establish the technical feasibility of the process.

“These patents were developed specifically for the purpose of capturing and harnessing waste thermal energies from metallurgical and chemical processes for the purpose of power generation and are likely also patentable worldwide.

He added: “The result is that the Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting power plant is the first of its kind in the world in terms of being connected to a convertor at a metallurgical smelter.”

Large power users

The southern African region’s power supply has been challenged in meeting the increasing demand, which has resulted in intensive power users in Zambia having their power consumption cut by 30%.

With new fuel cell technology on the rise, South Africa being the largest platinum producer in the world, cannot afford to allow power cuts to hamper production.

Reyburn Hendricks Director at Eternity Power and H1 Holdings said: “The smelter sector is an important component of South Africa’s mining and industrial economy and is a large consumer of electricity.

“Smelters emit large quantities of energy in the form of furnace off-gas as well as the emitting of heat. For various reasons, the majority of smelters have not historically sought to capture this form of waste energy. The Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting power plant is innovative in that it has been designed to capture relatively low quality thermal heat from the smelter and convert it to electricity.”

July Ndlovu Executive Head of Process at Anglo American Platinum said: “[…] We now have clean, sustainable and reliable energy and are proud to open Eternity Power as South Africa’s first thermal harvesting power plant in our operations. The plant is performing beyond expectations, generating more power ahead of its schedule.”

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