Hughes Pumps cleans aluminium smelter potshells
15th September 2015


A powerful Hughes Pumps high pressure pumping system, supplied through agent Kerrick New Zealand, is being used at New Zealand’s Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter to remove the crust build up from aluminium processing potshells used during the refurbishment process. 

The Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter produces the highest purity aluminium in the world used for critical applications in many sectors, including electronics, IT, aerospace, and bright-finish sectors, in diverse applications such as Airbus A380, to window frames, ladders and alloy wheels.


Watch a demonstration of the high pressure system quickly and effectively blasting crust from the walls of a potshell. 

Click here to view video



Using alumina, electricity and carbon New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) turns alumina into aluminium in what is commonly known as the Hall-Heroult process. Shipping alumina from Australia to their smelter at Tiwai Point in Southland for processing, they use an electro-chemical reaction to reduce the alumina into aluminium and oxygen, which are then separated.

The pots used to refine and separate the aluminium from the oxygen have an average life span of between 1980 to 2500 days, after which they are removed from production and refurbished. During the refining process a thick crust builds up on the inside of the pot. This crust is removed during the refurbishment process using a specialist high pressure cleaning system. 

The Hughes Pumps high pressure pumping system, supplied through New Zealand sole agent Kerrick, was a replacement for a system, originally commissioned in 1993, which was due for retirement.

The Hughes system comprises an HPS1000 pump operating at a powerful 64lpm at 600bar (17gpm at 8,700 psi), coupled to a 100 HP Perkins engine. The pump system is connected to a mechanical digger, which is lifted into a potshell for cleaning. The digger is fitted with an hydraulic boom and a jet Barracuda nozzle which is ideal for surface preparation work of this nature.

To provide extra protection from the salty corrosive winds that come from the smelter’s coastal location, the entire system is encapsulated in a protective steel skid/frame that has been galvanized and powder coated.