Modelling of instabilities in aluminium electrolysis cells

with Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau, Claude Le Bris and Antonin Orriols.

Version française

The physical phenomena governing the behavior of aluminium electrolysis cells are complicated and couple fluid mechanics, magnetic, chemical reactions... In our work, we focus on the magnetohydrodynamic modelling of cells.
An electrolysis cells is composed of some anods, which drive a very intense electric current through a bath (cryolite) and aluminium, both molten, towards the cathod. We are especially interested in the modelling of the movements of the interface between the two liquids (the bath and the aluminium). These movements are created by huge magnetic fields, due to the electric conductors bringing the current to the cells.

For the mathematical and numerical questions raised by the modelling of this phenomenon, we refer to :

Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau, Claude Le Bris and I received the Prix CS 2002 of the company Communications & Systèmes for our work about the numerical simulation of aluminium electrolysis cells (pdf).

Some numerical results :

The shape of the interface : on the left, the electric circuit and on the right, the interface obtained with this circuit.

Velocity (left) and magnetic (right) fields obtained with the same electric circuit as above.

Here are some movies showing instabilities in a cylindrical cell. These instabilities are due to a too much intense vertical component of the magnetic field  (see above the proceeding article about Metal pad roll instabilities). First a case with a small magnetic field and no instability (mpeg), and then a case with an instability (mpeg).

A link to the site of  Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau about the same subject :

Other links:

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Last update: May 3rd 2006.