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Our History

More than 100 years of alumina expertise

So many innovations and inspiring moments have made Almatis what it is today. This timeline summarizes the key moments and milestones that have shaped our past.

 



1910 1918 1952 1968 1975 1980 1982 1993 1995 1998 2006 2007 2011 2012 2013 2015
1910 East St. Louis, IL, USA First calcined alumina production for abrasives in Illinois, U.S. by Alcoa
1918 Pittsburgh, PA, USA 1st R&D organization
1952 Bauxite, AR, USA Alcoa opens its first specialty alumina plant.
1968 Rotterdam, The Netherlands The company makes its alumina footprint global with the establishment of a tabular alumina plant in Rotterdam.
1975 Iwakuni, Japan Expansion continues with the opening of a tabular alumina plant in Japan.
1980 Rotterdam, The Netherlands Rotterdam facility is expanded with the addition of a cement plant.
1982 Ludwigshafen, Germany Calcined alumina plant is purchased.
1993 Ludwigshafen, Germany Tabular alumina capability is added to Ludwigshafen plant.
1995 Falta, India Joint venture is formed for tabular alumina processing in India
1996 Leetsdale, PA, USA Calcined and tabular alumina plant is opened in Leetsdale.
1998 Huangdao, China New tabular processing and calcined grinding plant is opened.
2004 Almatis is founded Specialty alumina business is carved-out from Alcoa and purchased by Rhone Capital and Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan.
2006 Huangdao, China Tabular alumina capacity is expanded. Neville, PA, USA Calcined alumina grinding center is purchased in the U.S.
2007 Almatis acquired by DIC Almatis is purchased by Dubai International Capital ("DIC") Falta, India Almatis purchases remaining stake in JV to form a 100%-owned subsidiary.
2011 Ludwigshafen, Germany Expansion of parallel crushing and sizing line at Ludwigshafen plant.
2012 Huangdao, China Manufacturing facility is further supplemented with the addition of calcined alumina plant. Sao Paulo, Brazil Almatis establishes local sales operation in SP State, Brazil, with business HQ in Campinas and warehouse in Osasco. Bauxite, AR, USA Specialty Hydrates business is solid to Huber.
2013 Burnside, LA, USA Almatis acquires assets and operations of the Burnside alumina refinery in Louisiana.
2015 OYAK acquires Almatis Almatis is purchased by OYAK Global Investments.

1910 – The Start of the Alumina Chemicals Business

Over 100 years ago in 1910 that the Specialty Alumina business began with the first sale of alumina for a non-metals application by Alcoa, the predecessor of Almatis. Only 24 years after the aluminum industry was founded, this  sale of a calcined alumina product, used by the customer to make fused alumina abrasives, marked the birth of a new industry sector – the specialty alumina business – and launched Alcoa's alumina chemicals trade...

One hundred years later, the modern alumina chemicals industry has become a global business, producing and selling a wide variety of products with a broad range of properties and applications that are incorporated into items used daily by people all over the world.

Alumina chemicals are a thriving business with a bright future fueled by many growth opportunities from the ongoing research and development of new products and applications.

We at Almatis are very proud that our company can trace back to the first product development in this industry and, as a result, we can claim 100 years of technical alumina expertise. Our 10 decades of intensive R&D and application work in conjunction with our customers has generated numerous new specialty alumina products and processes for diverse industries and end uses.

History of the Specialty Alumina Business

Let's step back 10 decades and briefly outline the significant historical occurrences that contributed to the development and growth of our premium alumina business.

The worldwide alumina chemicals industry had its beginnings in the modern aluminum industry founded in 1886 by Charles Martin Hall in the United States and Paul Heroult in France.

Bayer
Dr. Karl Joseph Bayer

The promising demand for large quantities of pure alumina to produce aluminum metal inspired Dr. Karl Joseph Bayer to develop a low-cost method for extracting alumina from bauxite. The 1887 invention of the Bayer process, the principal industrial means of refining bauxite to produce high-purity alumina at relatively low costs, can be seen as the most significant milestone in the history of our premium alumina business.

The first commercial Specialty Alumina plant in the U.S. began operations by the Pittsburgh Reduction Company (as Alcoa was then called) in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1903. With a reliable, cost-effective source of alumina available in large volumes, potential customers and operators of the Bayer plants in Europe and the U.S. became interested in and began working cooperatively on potential applications for alumina beyond the aluminum industry.

Plant Around
Plant around 1905

Following the establishment in 1918 of the Aluminum Company of America Laboratories for formal research and development, a branch of the Labs was set up in 1923 at the East St. Louis plant to conduct R&D on alumina applications and purification processes. (This work was later moved to the renamed Alcoa Technical Center outside of Pittsburgh in the mid-1970s.) A prime reason for the success of these alumina R&D endeavors was the close relationships established with customers for developing and commercializing new products and applications.

Family
Family day in a lab in St. Louis Plant

„Alcoa/ Almatis engineers have always worked in customer labs, R&D centers and plants,“ explains Rock Marra (VP Process Technology), „and customers have likewise been present in Alcoa facilities. From 1910 on, we have worked hand-in-hand with our customers, always exchanging process technology and innovative product ideas. It must have been amazing to experience the beginning of our business. We salute these early innovators that worked so creatively to bring new solutions to industrial challenges.“

Plant Front
Plant Front around 1910

From Above
and from above in 1940

Since becoming an independent business, Almatis has further expanded customer outreach to form relationships with the customers of our customers, e.g. the steel industry, to even better understand the market dynamics and to develop value-adding solutions that reach all the way to the end user. From that single calcined alumina sale in 1910, Almatis has become a global producer of premium alumina, with 9 plants on 3 continents and a widely diverse product portfolio serving markets from refractories and ceramics to polishing and more.

Tabular Alumina and Almatis Product Lines

The development of Tabular Alumina is a standout achievement of Almatis and deserves a paragraph of its own. No other product has been as influential to our success. For more than 70 years tabular alumina has been widely used in high performance refractory materials for many applications in steel, foundries, petrochemicals and ceramics. The global tabular alumina market is still growing – exhibiting a remarkably long product life!

The first tabular alumina was produced by Thomas S. Curtis in 1934 under Alcoa contract. The successful development and optimization of the Alcoa tabular alumina product and process required extensive R&D and improvement programs as well as modification work during the years from 1935 to 1956. Process engineering modifications were incorporated with each new plant design.

Aluminumoxide.jpg
Aluminumoxide

New developments such as reactive aluminas were shared with customers, e.g. the ceramic industry, as they occurred to ensure further enhancements of the process and applications. The technology transfer of reactive aluminas from ceramic into refractory applications has enabled milestone improvements and significant growth in that product line.

Cement completes the Almatis product portfolio, especially for monolithic refractory applications, and has been a focus of R&D work in the past years.

Since 1990 Almatis has ramped up the commitment to innovation and introduced these product lines to the market:

  • 1975 - A 16 / A 17 /A 152 - high performance reactive alumina
  • 1978 - T 162 - ultra-dense and smooth surface tabular
  • 1980 - Tabalox - dust and chip free alumina for filtration
  • 1987 - CL 2500 - 5000 series - low Soda aluminas
  • 1992 – Spinel AR 78 & AR 90 - alumina-rich spinels
  • 1993 – Alphabond® Re-hydratable alumina binder
  • 1995 – CA-270 - a new Generation of calcium aluminate cement
  • 1995 - CTC 20 to 55 a new reactive aluminas series
  • 1996 – Dispersing Aluminas
  • 1997 – Super Light Weight Aggregate SLA 92
  • 1997 – CT 3000 SDP – reactive alumina spray dried powder ready to press
  • 1999 – Infilcast® Refractory placement system
  • 2000 - TAB LS & XLS - low and ultra low soda tabular
  • 2001 – Almatis Integrated Matrix System (AIM)
  • 2002 – Bonite Calcium hexa-aluminate refractory aggregate
  • 2004 – E-SY 1000/2000
  • 2007 – CA-470 Ti, a new temperature independent cement
  • 2007 - CT 3000LS SG and CT 3000LS SDP – extra low soda reactive alumina
  • 2008 - GMA 25 series - for specialty glass applications
  • 2008 – Coarse tabular 10-25 mm
  • 2010 - BSA 96 - brown sintered alumina
  • 2010 - P 833 - polishing alumina for automotive clear-coat
  • 2011 - PSG 140 - lapping and polishing alumina
  • 2013 - CA-670 - early strength cement
  • 2014 - CaroWhite - specific White cement for construction industry
  • 2014 - RAPOL 100 + 500 - 2:1 rapid cut & shine polishing alumina
  • 2015 - ESY 88 & 288 - reactive aluminas for China
  • 2015 - ULTIMATE P 1500 - very high cutting, less scratches polishing alumina
  • 2016 - P 2 MC & MF - polishing alumina for high gloss on all kind of metals

 

 

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