One of the world's most prestigious engineering accolades has been awarded to Vince Dooley of Alcoa's global refining research and development group based at Kwinana in Western Australia.
Mr Dooley, an Electrical Engineering Specialist, with Alcoa's Technology Delivery Group, has received the 'UOP Technology Award' from the International Society of Automation based in the United States. The annual award, now in its 26th year, recognises outstanding achievement in the conception, design, or implementation of instrumentation and/or process control.
Over a 29 year career at Alcoa, Mr Dooley has invented and implemented a range of sophisticated on-line analytical instruments, which have become industry best practice in alumina refining. His inventions have seen productivity benefits in every Alcoa alumina refinery around the world, delivering multi-million dollar benefits to the company's bottom line.
Mr Dooley's inventions include a Production On-Line Liquor Analyser and an On-Line Mud Level Instrument, known internally as the 'Dooley Gauge'. These devices measure the important components of Alcoa's process solutions, such as the dissolved alumina content and solids levels. They allow the company to continuously optimise the circuit productivity to minimise process upsets. Prior to these developments, the process relied on a number of complex laboratory analyses which made on-line control impossible.
Dr Ian Harrison, Director of Research and Development Global Refining, said Mr Dooley's inventions had significantly contributed to Alcoa's on-going sustainability and competitive edge.
"Our refineries simply cannot operate at their current productivity levels without Vince's on-line instruments."
Alumina refining is a sophisticated, efficient industry in which competitive advantage is obtained through research and development (R&D).
"On-line liquor analysis has been one of the alumina industry's long held dreams. Thanks to Vince, those dreams are now a reality for us at Alcoa," Dr Harrison said.
"Vince's win is a fantastic achievement because the development of on-line instrumentation for the alumina industry is significantly more complex than it is for many other industries."
Award winner, Vince Dooley, said: "I'm thrilled to be receiving this award - everyone in TDG makes an important contribution to Alcoa's performance and it's great to receive some external recognition for our efforts and achievements."
Dave Olney, Vice President Technology - Global Refining, said Mr Dooley was not only able to develop the concepts, but take them through to commercial application to the extent that the instruments are now in full operation across the entire Alcoa refining system around the world.
"His skills set ranges from the expert technical knowledge of the refining process and instrumentation, through to the very practical engineering and application 'know-how' - essential to brining new equipment into service on a commercial scale."