ABB supplies Oman aluminium plant

ABB is supplying a complete integrated power solution including process-critical rectifiers, unique rectifier control systems and current sensors for the biggest aluminium potline ever built.

The 360-pot Sohar aluminium plant in Oman will have a production capacity of 360,000 tonnes and be the biggest aluminium potline in the world when it goes on-stream in March 2008.

Sohar is a joint venture between industry and regional leaders Oman Oil Company, ADWEA (Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water) and Alcan.

ABB’s scope of supply includes five giant 113 kA / 1650 VDC rectifier transformers, the most powerful ever built, five AC 800PEC high-speed control and protection units for the rectifiers, a level-2 SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system for the rectifier station and gas insulated substation, and ABB’s fibre-optic current sensors (FOCS).

Rectifiers are critical components in a smelter potline. They convert AC to DC power which is then passed through the molten electrolyte in the pots to form aluminium. If the rectifiers fail and the line shuts down, the molten aluminium will “freeze” within hours, at a cost of $100 million or more.

The Sohar aluminium plant is part of a massive greenfield industrialisation project in Oman to establish alternative sources of revenue to oil and gas. In addition to the smelter, the project includes two steel plants and a chemicals plant, all of which will be located 12 kilometres inland from the port of Sohar.

A second potline of the same size and capacity is planned for construction later this decade.