On 16th October 2016, Alex W. Lowery, General Manager, Wise Chem (Wise Chem is a service provider to Qatalum Casthouse), visited Qatalum and conducted molten metal awareness session at Qatalum Training Centre. He highlighted the properties of molten metal, causes of molten metal explosions, prevention of explosions and the need to adhere to procedures. These are critical issues that will prevent molten metal explosions in Casthouse, Potlines, Cathode Rodding and Anode Rodding Plants.
In order not to forget the history of molten metal explosions, Alex took those present through several case histories of molten metal explosions. Additionally, he outlined two reasons why molten metal explosions occur:
1. When molten metal covers water, which turns instantaneously into steam and expels/forces the molten metal away.
2. When oxygen bonds with molten aluminium releasing hydrogen in the form of energy.
Furthermore, he highlighted some issues, which we need to safeguard against in all molten metal handling areas at Qatalum:
• Molten metal explosions can occur in concrete, steel, and stainless steel substrates
• A bare spot larger than 2 x 2 inches represents a hazard
• Mechanical impacts, such as the use of hammer or mallet, can result in explosions
• Some coatings actually promote explosions
• Results from past historical studies are valid today, tomorrow, and in the future
• The key to prevent molten metal explosion, he concluded, is to follow established procedures.
Present at the Training Programme were Steinar Benum, Casthouse Group Manager, Management Personnel, Engineers, HSSE Personnel, Supervisors and Safety Delegates from Casthouse, Reduction and the Carbon Plant.
Steinar Benum, Casthouse Group Manager emphasized the importance of human awareness, risks and compliance to procedures as an important step towards a safer molten metal handling work areas saying, “I sincerely believe that it’s necessary to have this awareness campaign regularly in order to keep safe.”