Copper is an indispensable input element in most economic sectors. However, its production chain has significant and adverse consequences on the environment. Through pyrometallurgical route it is estimated that each kilogram of refined copper consumes 33 MJ and generates a footprint of 3.3 kg of CO2. Primary production projections for 2019 amount to 26,500 kT, of which 79% will be by pyrometallurgical route. It is a responsibility of the industry to makes the process more environmental friendly. This can be done replacing the current energy matrix by the use of renewable energy. In this first and preliminary work we are evaluating the technical potential to integrate Central Tower Plants (CTP) into the smelting stage as a solar energy source. According to the mineral books and the irradiation maps, almost 20% of the current production can be match with these solar concentration systems because of the irradiance levels available where the metallurgical plants are located. The incorporation of a CTP in the world largest copper metallurgical facility to substitute the current fossil fuel energy supply could demand a capacity of 68 MWt. This last consideration obeys to the weighted average of the specific energy consumption gave by the Chilean Copper Commission COCHILCO. However, the results of this work indicate that the behavior of this change in the operative parameters could reduce the 68 MWt almost in a half.
Potential of solar central tower systems for thermal applications in the production chain of copper by pyrometallurgical route
Irving Cruz-Robles, Alfonso J. Vázquez Vaamonde, Elisa Alonso, Carlos A. Pérez-Rábago, Claudio A. Estrada; Potential of solar central tower systems for thermal applications in the production chain of copper by pyrometallurgical route. AIP Conf. Proc. 8 November 2018; 2033 (1): 020002. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5067011
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