From sunny Sørlandet to icy Iceland

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Now that almost nine months of my time as an Elkem trainee has passed, I have finished my first trainee period and moved on to the next. On that occasion, it feels like a good time to give a quick peek into what I’ve been up to during my first trainee period, and what I’ll be doing next.

Picture description: My journey in Elkem so far, from Carbon Lab to Elkem Ísland

This blog post was written by our second year trainee Sofie Aursjø.

As a fresh trainee, I started my first trainee period in Elkem Carbon at Fiskaa in Kristiansand, one of six Elkem Carbon plants scattered across the world. Elkem Carbon’s main product is carbon electrode materials for metal production industry, but they also produce a wide range of carbon products for metallurgical processes, such as furnace linings, cathode blocks, recarburisers, tap hole products, etc.

My work these past eight months has primarily been with Elkem Carbon’s R&D lab, which is a supporting function not only to the Elkem Carbon plant in Fiskaa, but to the other five plants across the world as well. I have spent my time here working with carbon lining and tap hole products, and with my background in chemical engineering I was rather pleased to find myself back in a lab. A typical day for me at the Carbon R&D lab has involved deciding what mixes to make and which experiments to run, performing the lab work, analyzing the results and writing reports.

The experiments at the Carbon R&D lab often involve working with high temperatures.

My main project has been to help develop a new product for Elkem Carbon known as tap hole clay, which is used to plug tap holes in ferroalloy and silicon furnaces between tappings. The goal of this project is to start production in Elkem Carbon’s joint venture plant Ferroveld in South Africa. Carbon lab, where I spent my first trainee period, has assisted Ferroveld by testing physical properties and giving development suggestions along the way. Working with a plant situated halfway across the world has been challenging at times, with meetings via Skype and a lot of effort to coordinate tasks between the sites. However, it has also offered the chance to work with a multinational group of engineers, and given me a lot of insight in how to coordinate project work efficiently. It also gave me the opportunity to travel to South Africa to see how they plan to produce the product, and to witness a full scale test of our product in a ferrochrome furnace.

Elkem Ferroveld, South Africa.

For my second trainee period, I was lucky enough to get an offer from abroad and after the Easter weekend, I packed my bags and set course for Iceland. I’m only a few weeks into my stay, but my first impression is that Icelandic people are ridiculously friendly, the scenery is amazing and the people at the plant are very welcoming. And although I haven’t really started my tasks at the plant yet, the plan for my stay seems really interesting. I will wrap up this blog post now with some pictures from my stay in Iceland so far, including some sights that I can’t wait to show the other trainees when they visit Iceland in June.

To the left: the view from my street looking towards Akrafjall. To the right: yours truly on top of one of the peaks of Akrafjall.

A sightseeing trip around “the golden circle” with Bjørn Petter Nygaard as he visited Elkem Ísland from the Elkem headquarters in Oslo. From left to right: The Gullfoss waterfall, Kerið Crater Lake, the Strokkur geyser and Þingvellir National Park.