Sebree, KY 

Welcome to Our Aluminum Smelter


I want to welcome all of our customers, employees and visitors to the Century Sebree web site.  Here you can find information about our aluminum smelter and the products we produce.  I invite you to visit the web site frequently to stay informed of what is happening at the plant and how we can provide services to you.

Best Regards, Levi Chaffin, Plant Manager 

 


 

Sebree Smelter History

The Sebree smelter has been in operation since 1973, first under the name of Anaconda. It was later purchased by ARCO; Alcan in 1985; Rio Tinto in 2007; and Century Aluminum in 2013. The Sebree smelter is one of just a handful of aluminum smelters remaining in the United States -- and one of only a few that are operating at full capacity. It consists primarily of six departments: Administration, HR / Safety / Security, Casting, Electrode, Maintenance and Potlines.

Sebree's aluminum smelter is a 24-hour operation and currently employs approximately 525 men and women.

The Sebree aluminum smelter is located in southern Henderson County near the Webster County border. In fact, the plant's namesake, "Sebree" (which is in Webster County) was assigned by the company dozens of years ago because Sebree was the closest incorporated city. Interestingly, the plant's official address is in Robards, Kentucky. But, for all intents and purposes, we are distinguished as the "Sebree plant."

When the plant was built in 1972-1973 there were 200 acres leveled and fenced to house each of the buildings. However, the company owns approximately 2,800 acres. Today there are over 35 acres of land under roof

Alumina, our primary raw material, is unloaded by barge each week. The barges hold in the neighborhood of 1,400 to 1,600 tons of material. Alumina is vacuumed up from the barge through large snorkels and fed onto conveyor belts that transport it to storage silos (the blue holding tanks.

Our smelter has produced more than 11 billion pounds of aluminum.

Sebree Production Departments

Potlines

The Sebree plant creates approximately 205,000 tonnes of new aluminum each year. There are three potlines with numerous functions supporting them. Potlines is where most of all our electricity goes to create aluminum.

It is estimated that the plant has created more than 11 billion pounds of aluminum since it first opened in 1973. Each year we make enough aluminum that we could stack soft drink cans that would reach the moon four times!

Casting

All of the potlines' molten metal is transported by a cruce truck to the Casting department. In Casting, employees turn the new aluminum into two primary products: billet and low-profile sow. Cast billet resembles a 20-foot telephone pole, which is then heat treated and cut to customer specifications.

While sow is shipped to various customers who re-melt it for blending and casting into various shapes, billet is shipped to extruders who apply pressure and heat to re-shape the billet into such things as air conditioning coils and window frames.

Electrode

This department creates carbon blocks that weight about 1,700 pounds each. The blocks are made, baked and then shipped to Potlines where they are put inside each pot to conduct electricity. Very few locations in the United States make their own carbon blocks.

What remains of the "spent" anodes taken out of the aluminum pots is then grinded and recycled to make more anodes.

Electrode installed a brand new $37 million bake furnace in 2011, giving the plant many more years of service in this area.

Maintenance

Our Maintenance department employs dozens of highly skilled mechanics and electricians who keep the plant running smoothly. The are responsible for the safe operations of hundreds of machines, mobile equipment and our switchyard -- where electricity is brought into the plant. 

Aluminum History and Process

Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element in the Earth's crust (about 8%) and is the third most common element after oxygen and silicon. Unlike copper or gold, aluminum cannot be found in nature in the pure state because of its high affinity with oxygen, being so always combined with another element like in alum (KAl(SO4)2?12H2O) and in aluminum oxide (Al2O3). So, up to 1820, the aluminum was unknown as a metal.

Aluminum is produced by extracting it from the aluminum oxide, also alumina, through an electrolysis process driven by electrical current. The process uses as electrolyte a molten salts called cryolite capable of dissolving the alumina. Carbon anodes are immersed into the electrolyte (usually referred as the "bath") carrying electrical current which then flows into the molten cryolite containing dissolved alumina. As a result, the chemical bond between aluminum and oxygen in the alumina is broken, the aluminum is deposited in the bottom of the cell, where a molten aluminum deposit is found, while the oxygen reacts with the carbon of the anodes producing carbon dioxide (CO2) bubbles.

Presently, aluminum is the second largest used metal in the world, mainly due to its light weight, high strength and recyclability.

Aluminum is heavily used in the transportation industry because of its durability, strength and lightweight. Aluminum weight is one third of steel or cast iron. Taking into account increased thickness of the aluminum parts compared to steel, 1 kg of aluminum replaces 2 kg of steel, leading to lighter cars, trucks, etc... with reduced fuel consumption and CO2 generation.


 

 

Electricity is Key to Our Operation

The lifeblood of aluminum smelting is electricity.  

Did you know that the Sebree smelter uses enough electricity each day to power a city the size of Louisville, KY?  That's because the aluminum smelting process is one of the most power intensive industries in the world. 

We get our power from the open market through a series of transmission lines and funneled through our switchyard.  These transmission lines are supplying 161,000 volts which goes through our main step-down transformer and is converted to 34,500 volts. Each potline has 7 rectifier stations where the electricity is changed from Alternating Current to Direct Current, which is what's required to operate the pots.