PhD project in collaboration with Alcoa Corporation

We are looking for an excellent PhD candidate 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: Automatic control of green anode resistivity.

Context. Pre−baked carbon anodes are required for primary aluminum production by the Hall−Héroult process. Variations in anode raw materials adversely affect their quality. New process control schemes are needed for producing high quality anodes consistently.

Objective. Develop an automatic control scheme to minimize green anode resistivity measured using a new on− line sensor technology.

Methodology. The project requires conducting experimental designs in the REGAL laboratory and at the Alcoa Deschambault plant to quantify the relationships between anode paste formulation and green anode resistivity measurements under different conditions. Based on collected data, the candidate will build dynamic models of part of the anode manufacturing plant in the Matlab/Simulink environment. The performance of different optimizing control schemes will be tested and compared in simulation to identify the most promising strategy. Plant implementation of the most promising control scheme for testing is also envisaged towards the end of the project. The candidate is expected to interact with Alcoa’s personnel, to 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 control schemes. The Deschambault plant is located 40 minutes drive from university.

Start date. May 2022.

Financial support. 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. 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: