MSc and PhD projects in collaboration with Alcoa Corporation

We are looking for excellent MSc and PhD candidates for R&D project “Development of advanced monitoring and control schemes for the primary aluminum industry” funded by the National Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Alcoa Corporation, one of the world’s leading producer of primary aluminium. The research will take place at Université Laval and Alcoa plants. Université Laval, through the Aluminium Research Centre − REGAL, is a leading academic research institution in the area of aluminium production. REGAL−Laval consists of 15 Faculty members and about 50 graduate students. The candidate will be integrated within this group, and will benefit from the unique carbon anode production and characterization infrastructure.

Project: Advanced cell monitoring and control based on individual anode electrical currents.

Context. Cheaper and reliable technologies for measuring individual anode electrical currents in Hall−Héroult reduction cells are now available. These signals may help develop the next generation of cell control systems to better capture local abnormal conditions in the cell and mitigate them.

Objective. Improve detection and diagnosis of cell abnormal events by combining features extracted from individual anode electrical currents (IACS) and relevant cell operation variables.

Methodology. The project first requires collecting IACS signals from a number of reduction cells at an Alcoa reduction plant under different operating conditions (normal and abnormal). Second, signal processing and analysis algorithms will be developed to extract relevant features from IACS allowing to detect and diagnose abnormal events, such as low−voltage anode effects, anodic incidents, magneto−hydrodynamic instabilities, etc. The monitoring scheme will be tested at the Alcoa plant according to carefully designed experiments. How to use the information provided by the system to apply corrective actions will be determined. The candidate is expected to interact with Alcoa’s personnel, to possibly make regular site visits to gather data, to design and perform a certain number of experiments on the full−scale process to enrich the data bases, and test the monitoring and control schemes. The targeted plant is located in Deschambault, 40 minutes drive from campus.

Start date. May 2022.

Financial support. MSc 18K$/year for up to 2 years; PhD 25K$/year for up to 4 years.

Requirements. To have maintained a minimum cumulative average of B (or equivalent) during the undergrad and Master’s degrees (PhD applicants). To be autonomous. Capacity to read, write and speak French or English. Knowledge of process data analysis using statistical methods, process control, Matlab and/or of the aluminum reduction process (Hall−Héroult) are important assets. Holding a valid Canadian driving licence or obtaining it within the first year of the project is a requirement.

Application. Send CV and transcripts (undergrad and masters) to:

Prof. Carl Duchesne, Ph.D., ing. Chem. Eng. Laval University, Quebec, Canada
Department of chemical engineering Phone: 1−418−656−5184
Aluminum research center − REGAL Email: