A consultancy project between MACSI in the University of Limerick and Rusal Aughinish Alumina has been announced as a finalist for the Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Award 2017. The KTI Impact Awards recognise and showcase the success in knowledge transfer carried out in Irish Higher Education Institutions and publicly funded research organisations. The awards recognise top performance in industry engagement and commercialisation of research and they pay tribute to the businesses and research performing organisations involved in knowledge transfer.
The Rusal Aughinish Alumina (AAL) plant in Limerick extracts alumina from bauxite using the Bayer Process. It is one of the world’s most energy efficient alumina refineries globally and Rusal’s largest alumina refinery. AAL has a long-standing relationship with the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI) a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded research group at UL with whom they have successfully collaborated for over 10 years on a number of research projects. System events at AAL could cause the plant could lose power that would impact product quality and AAL sought to improve predictions of product quality five days in advance to combat this. AAL engaged the MACSI team on a piece of consultancy that tasked MACSI with improving the prediction process. The process could not be solved using standard approaches so MACSI developed mathematical and statistical models for process understanding that combine first principles simulation and data driven stochastic dynamics.
The project resulted in a 200% increase in the accuracy of prediction of product quality, enhancing the overall efficiency of the plant and supporting AAL decision making. The two algorithms developed under the consultancy engagement have been implemented by the company and are in daily use. This project has had a major impact on the MACSI team at UL whose skills have been enriched by applying mathematical techniques to real world industrial problems. It enabled two-way knowledge transfer between the parties through staff exchanges and joint workshops. AAL and MACSI and UL continue to work together with this project having contributed to the development of a new SFI-funded research agreement in 2016 and a new project between AAL, UL and Imperial College London.
MACSI Director Professor Stephen O’Brien stated “we are very excited to be announced as a finalist for KTI Impact awards, this project between MACSI and Rusal Aughinish Alumina demonstrates the value of using world-class mathematical modelling research to solve real problems that arise in science, engineering and industry”
MACSI and Rusal Aughinish Alumina have been nominated for the Consultancy Impact award recognises and celebrates a researcher/research group at an Irish publicly-funded research performing organisation (RPO). The researcher(s) will have provided consultancy advice to a business or public sector organisation that will have resulted in a demonstrable economic and/or public benefit. Finalists will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held on Thursday 30th March in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8