10, 2000 (Lexington, Ky.) Do
you drive an automobile, sip from soft drink cans or open foil containers?
you do, you stand to gain from two federal contracts recently
awarded to Secat
Inc., a University of Kentucky affiliated research management and consulting business
dedicated to the aluminum industry.
contracts totaling $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy will be used on two
projects aimed at reducing waste and lowering energy and cost components in the production
and the fabrication processes of aluminum products.
cost savings of these projects could reach the consumer as the aluminum industry reduces
energy consumption and manufacturing costs.
projects are worth $7.1 million over three years, with Secat and its industry partners
contributing half of the cost, said Subodh Das, director of the Center for Aluminum
Technology (CAT) of the UK College of Engineering. CAT is the only aluminum research lab
in the nation supported by a university, government and private industry.
located at UKs Coldstream Research Campus, allows aluminum manufacturing companies
to become more competitive in the global market through applied research that will lower
energy and production costs, Das said.
projects are especially significant to Kentucky, where the manufacturing and processing of
aluminum is a major industry. The commonwealth has 81 aluminum plants, which constitute
the worlds greatest concentration of such facilities. These plants employ more than
11,000 men and women with an annual payroll of $542 million.
Those numbers could rise with the reduction of
manufacturing and processing costs of aluminum.
The Secat project on oxidative melt loss will reveal
fundamental understanding of the reduction of waste, called dross, which is formed in the
aluminum melting process. Implementation of this project would lead to energy savings of
58 trillion Btu by the year 2020, Das said. A savings of 58 trillion Btu is the equivalent
to the energy required for burning 15 million 100-watt light bulbs continuously for one
second project will assist the aluminum industry in reducing the incidence of ingot cracks
from the current level of 5 percent down to 2 percent. Ingot cracking is caused by
stresses that are developed in casting operations. Implementation of the results of the
research will lead to energy savings in excess of 6 trillion Btu by the year 2020, Das
said. Six trillion Btu would provide one years energy requirements for a city with a
population of 170,000.
projects will involve three national laboratories: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Argonne, Chicago,
Ill.; and Albany, Oregon. CAT at UK is the university partner.
companies involved in the projects are: Alcan Aluminum Corp.; ARCO Aluminum, Inc.;
Commonwealth Aluminum; Hydro Aluminum, Louisville, Inc.; IMCO Recycling, Inc.; Logan
Aluminum, Inc.; McCook Metals; NSA Division of Southwire Co.; and Wagstaff. All of these
companies are based in Kentucky or have connections to the Bluegrass state.
provides space, hardware and support service to individual companies and university
researchers. At Secat, personnel from the university and from the private sector
collaborate on projects while individual companies develop proprietary projects. Secat
manages the Coldstream facility and coordinates non-university resources in the pursuit of
specific research goals.