Canadian Manufacturing

Orbite granted patent allowance for red mud treatment process

Red mud is the waste product generated by the industrial process used for refining bauxite to obtain alumina

MONTREAL—Quebec-based Orbite Aluminae Inc. said it has been issued a patent allowance for processes related to treating waste from bauxite refining.

According to Orbite, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPA) granted the allowance for the red mud treatment process, and the company expects the patent to be issued in nine to 12 weeks.

Red mud is the waste product generated by the Bayer process, the industrial process used for refining bauxite to obtain alumina.

Alumina is the raw material for the electrolytic production of aluminum.

A typical bauxite refinery generates one to two times as much red mud as it does alumina, according to Orbite, and the waste is typically stockpiled in open-air tailings ponds.

“Red mud represents a long-term environmental liability for the entire alumina industry,” the company said in a statement, adding that the patented process is able to use red mud as a feedstock, extracting rare earths and rare metals, alumina, magnesium oxide and titanium dioxide, while only returning a small fraction of inert material.

The Orbite process not only contributes to the remediation of an environmental problem, but turns a liability into an asset,” the company continued.

“The uniqueness of the Orbite process is clearly validated by our growing portfolio of intellectual property rights,” Orbite CEO Glenn Kelly said. “Consequently, we are well positioned to advance our efforts to commercialize this breakthrough technology, and help convert continuously growing stockpiles of environmental liabilities into valuable assets.”

Orbite said it also received a patent from the CIPO for a process used to extract aluminum from aluminous ores.

Both patents grant the company the exclusive rights to the processes for 20 years.

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