Hall-Héroult cells are multiphysics in nature and very challenging to model. The aluminium industry has invested huge resources in the development of mathematical models to support its cell design and operation.
First, here is the cell thermo-electric model that, once validated, can correctly predict the cell heat balance and ledge profile. Second, the very complex magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) cell model, that once validated, can correctly predict the cell stability threshold. Today, it would be unthinkable to design efficient high amperage cells without the help of those two types of models.
A third type of model is the bath bubble flow model used to support the effort to minimize the bubble layer impact on the bath electrical resistance below the anodes. This type of model is now a subset of a new emerging type of model currently under intensive R&D development: the alumina dissolution model.
Of course, many more types of models have been developed to support cell and potroom design, including potshell, busbar and anode beam mechanical models, potroom ventilation CFD model, etc. Finally, the dynamic cell simulation model should become very important in the years to come to act as the kernel of “digital twins” in emerging digital twin-based cell control logic.