Potential application of ionic liquids in aluminium production- economical and ecological assesment
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Gdansk University of Technology
Publication date: 2009-01-01
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Ch. Jungnickel   

Department of Chemical Technology, Chemical Faculty, Gdansk University of Technology, ul. Narutowicza 11/12, 80-952 Gdansk, Poland
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2009;43(1):73-84
Aluminium is one of the most popular materials in the automotive, plane, ship, food and packaging industries mainly due to its light weight and corrosion resistance. The annual production of this metal is growing by 2 % every year. The aluminium production technology applied in an industry is based on electrodeposition in cryolite in so called Hall–Héroult process. This process is considered very energy consuming and was proven to have considerably high negative environmental impact. However an alternative technology has been suggested in the literature since aluminium deposition has been successfully demonstrated with room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) based on imidazolium, pyridinium and quaternary ammonium cations with AlCl3 with an efficiency reaching almost 100%. The aim of this paper is to perform a comparison of conventional Hall–Héroult process with new ionic liquid technology taking into account mainly the environmental and economical impact. As the result of our studies we came to the conclusion that ionic liquid’s application in aluminium production presents a very interesting alternative for technologies applied so far in the industry. However care must be taken when introducing ionic liquids to wide-scale use as their environmental im- pact is not fully acknowledged. In the process of industrial utilization of chemical substances a risk of unintentional release is always present and should be taken into account. Therefore, prior to the implementation of this new technology a full risk assessment, including potential adverse effects determination and estimation of mobility in all possible environmental compartments, is required.
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