Mario Fafard

Mario Fafard

Department of Civil Engineering
Université Laval

Chair title

NSERC/Alcoa/Hydro-Québec Industrial Research Chair on Energy Efficiency and the Advanced Modeling of Aluminum Electrolysis Cells (MACE3)

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2009


Primary aluminum production in Canada has risen from 0.69 megatons per year in 1960 to about 3 megatonnes in 2007, ranking Canada third among the world's aluminum producers and second among the world's aluminum exporters. Canada produces 54 percent of the tonnage of primary aluminum in North America, 37 percent of the tonnage for all the Americas and 10 percent of all aluminum tonnage worldwide.

Primary aluminum production plays a major economic role in Canada and especially in Quebec, which accounts for 90 percent of Canada's aluminum production capacity. Slightly more than one third of the cost of producing a metric tonne of aluminum (35 percent) is associated with energy consumption. From 1960 to 2000, average consumption of energy of primary aluminum produced has fallen from 23 kWh/kg to 15.5 kWh/kg.

The Chair's objective is to develop the knowledge and technologies needed to improve the energy efficiency of Hall-Héroult cells using an approach involving modelling, identification of parameters and validation. The Chair hopes to bring the use of high performance computing to a level similar to that attained in other industries, so as to optimize the cells' performance.

The Chair's research program has three components:

  • Developing basic knowledge about the coupled phenomena that affect the energy efficiency and lifespan of Hall-Héroult cells and its multiphysical modelling by means of high-performance computing;
  • Characterizing refractory materials and interfaces under extreme conditions (1 000°C);
  • Optimizing systems to reduce energy consumption, using advanced numerical methods and high performance computing.

The Chair's program is based on the Chairholder's expertise in multiphysical modelling of Hall-Héroult cells and close collaboration with researchers in the fields of civil, chemical, metallurgical, mechanical and computer engineering. A close relationship has been established with the researchers at Alcoa and at the Energy Technologies Laboratory of the Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Québec. The people who will participate in the Chair's program will be hosted at the Alcoa or Energy Technologies Laboratory facilities.

The Chair's research will optimize the energy efficiency of cells in virtual space so as to reduce energy consumption and optimize the process while taking the physical reality of these cells into account as much as possible. The advancement of knowledge, the development of powerful numerical tools and the understanding of the behaviour of the materials will pave the way for the development of rational, cost-effective approaches that should considerably reduce the costs of producing aluminum and thus enhance the competitiveness of Canadian aluminum smelters while promoting sustainable development in the aluminum production process.


  • Alcoa
  • Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Québec

Contact information

Department of Civil Engineering
Université Laval
Pavillon Adrien-Pouliot
1065, avenue de la Médecine
Québec, Québec
G1V 0A6

Tel.: 418-656-7605
Fax: 418-656-2928


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