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Past Winner
2011 NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation

Rung Tien Bui

Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and Rio Tinto Alcan

Category 2: Large Companies

Rung Tien Bui
Rung Tien Bui

Aluminum is a metal that is infinitely recyclable, lightweight and can be adapted to a wide variety of uses. That’s why it is in high demand for everything from packaging consumer products to making more fuel-efficient vehicles.

A partnership spanning 25 years, including a team of professors at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC) led by Rung Tien Bui, and Rio Tinto Alcan—a major global aluminum supplier—is ensuring Canada’s continued leadership in aluminum smelting—a major contributor of jobs and economic growth in Quebec.

Rio Tinto Alcan made significant contributions to the university’s Centre universitaire de recherche sur l’aluminium(CURAL). This integrated research and development (R&D) laboratory is dedicated to improving alumina products and manufacturing processes. Some of their contributions include developing better casthouse furnaces for the cost-effective and sustainable production of aluminum.

This R&D partnership has also contributed to the training of young scientists who can advance Canada’s leadership in this industry, helping to attract further investments and jobs. For Rio Tinto Alcan, the partnership ensures that they have access to highly skilled personnel who can solve complex challenges. For example, recent research has developed techniques for the solid/liquid separation of bauxite, a process that reduces costs and produces better quality alumina.

For the past 10 years, Rio Tinto Alcan has provided nearly $10 million to CURAL and recently announced a $6.2 million investment in research and community infrastructure to renewing the partnership with Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. This is a testament to the quality of collaboration that exists between Rio Tinto Alcan and UQAC.