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Technology for a greener future

With the world’s population growing as fast as it is, and raw materials becoming increasing scarce, it is more With the world’s population growing as fast as it is, and raw materials becoming increasingly scarce, it is more important than ever that we utilise mineral resources more effectively and more sustainably. Outotec is committed to helping make this possible by developing better production methods, reducing the amount of water and energy they use, and minimising their emissions.

Outotec has been at the cutting edge of innovation in minerals and metals processing technologies for nearly a century. The company’s expertise has also been applied successfully in many other industries, such as chemicals, fertilisers, energy, and water treatment.

Outotec’s advanced technology helps its customers produce more end-product for less input, whether in terms of energy or natural resources, while generating less waste and lower life-time operating costs. Pioneering technologies like these that help reduce water, energy, and raw material consumption and cut emissions and waste levels also benefit society as a whole.

Know-how is everything

Every ore body is different, which means that an in-depth knowledge of mineralogy and metallurgy is essential for designing optimal solutions for processing different types of ores and concentrates. Advanced evaluation techniques and testing facilities are also essential. Decades of experience have taught Outotec that only by investigating every aspect of the challenges facing its customers can it find the most practical and sustainable solution.

Dozens of technologies developed by Outotec have become industry standards. The majority of the world’s iron ore pellets and half of the world’s primary copper, for example, are produced using Outotec processes.

Outotec’s technological leadership is based on expertise stretching across the entire processing chain, from ore to refined metal. This gives the company the ability to look at both the big picture and the detail, and enables customers to see the potential for lower production costs, increased yield, and reduced waste that an Outotec solution can offer long before a process is in operation.

Greater sustainability

New technology has become increasingly important in making more efficient and environmentally sound production possible in recent years. As Outotec’s solutions are typically expected to last for decades, it is important that they have as low an environmental footprint as possible from the very start. In addition to process and energy efficiency and sustainability, high standards of performance in areas such as reliability, availability, maintainability, and safety are also very much part of the equation.

Typical of the way in which Outotec has been able to extend its technologies is the new application that has been developed recently for processing oil shale based on circulating fluidised bed technology, a long-time Outotec strength.

Estonia’s largest utility and the world’s biggest user of oil shale, Eesti Energia, is building a new oil shale processing plant based around this technology, which is significantly more sustainable than previous processes. In addition to oil shale, the technology can be utilised in recycling materials containing hydrocarbons, such as plastic waste and tyres.

The limited availability of water at many mining sites has made water-related technology a key focus area for Outotec over the years, and the company has developed numerous solutions for reducing the amount of water required in processes by increasing water recycling and cutting wastewater levels. Neutralisation, effluent treatment, and drinking water needs are just some of the areas covered by Outotec’s industrial water treatment technologies.

A global network of expertise

Simply developing and supplying new technology is not enough to make customers’ projects a success, however, which is why Outotec offers its customers a wide range of expertise, ranging from feasibility studies, conceptual engineering, and process and plant engineering to equipment design and supply, and the turnkey delivery of entire plants. A single technology partner can often be very useful in giving customers peace of mind in a major new investment.

With a service network that spans the globe, Outotec and its experts also work with customers for years after plants have been commissioned to ensure that they continue to run smoothly. Available locally when needed, the company’s experts have wide-ranging expertise and experience in areas such as plant audits, optimisation, upgrades, maintenance, and training. And when a plant comes to the end of its natural life, they can even help with shutting it down and repurposing a site for subsequent use.

Outotec’s customer offering ranges from feasibility studies, conceptual engineering, and process and plant engineering to equipment design and supply, and turnkey plant deliveries.

Leading from the front of the field

  • Over 60% of Outotec’s technologies can be classified as environmental goods and services (EGS) under the OECD definition of the term. Depending on the application, a further 33% also fall into this category
  • Outotec has over 500 patent families, including some 4,400 national patents and 60 trademarks
  • Key areas of expertise include separation, solid-state material metallurgy, pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, and gas handling
  • Outotec also has extensive know-how in material technology, plant and equipment engineering, equipment and process automation, and managing major international projects
  • Two in-house research centres, state-of-theart laboratories, and extensive test facilities are located in Finland and Germany
  • Dozens of Outotec technologies have become industry standards, including its revolutionary flash smelting and flash converting technologies for producing copper
  • The majority of the world’s iron ore pellets, half of the world’s primary copper, and a third of the nickel sourced from sulphide ores are produced using Outotec processes
  • More than 600 sulphuric acid plants have been supplied by Outotec and account for over a third of the world’s sulphuric acid capacity.
> Kari Knuutila
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)