Innovation: a growth strategy building on more than 60 years of R&D

Alteo’s distinguished roots as a former company within Pechiney, and in the latter years Alcan and Rio Tinto, reveals a rich legacy of technological and product innovation. This tradition will continue with technical groups that incorporates a Technical Management group that seeks and implements technological innovations,  Business development managers who can bring technical expertise directly to customers and an expanded application laboratory.


A centre of excellence in Gardanne

In 1949 Pechiney created a “Centre de l’alumine” in Gardanne and since then there have been many outstanding innovations in Bayer process technology, calcination technology and product development.


During the 2000s as, as Pechiney became part of first Alcan and then Rio Tinto, Gardanne was able to further expand its knowledge in Bayer technology and specialty aluminas production.

Highlights include:




Since 1990

Production process

Bayer: Continuous precipitation, single streaming digestion, oxalate removal.

Bayer: Hydrocyclones, ratio control with conductivity meters, mechanical generation of fines for precipitation control.

Bayer: Supersaturation control for particle size distribution control.
Calcination: flash drying and proprietary kiln burner technology.

Product development

Specialty aluminas.

Low soda aluminas (Reynolds process).

Soft calcined alumina for specialty glass, aluminas for catalyst supports, high purity reactive alumina, bi and multi-modal refractory reactive aluminas…

Supporting innovation at Alteo - R&D team

In this group there is the Product & Process Development group, responsible for process 

optimization and industrialisation of n:ew products.

Then, the central Analysis Laboratory is in charge of process control, final release and development testing of products. Similar standard analysis laboratories are located in each of our other three plants.

Finally, the Applications Laboratory continuously seeks to develop products and master customer technologies to better understand and meet both our clients’ needs and sustainability objectives.


Focus on the Applications Laboratory

Alteo looks ahead with an ambitious development programme following substantial investment in

 specialized testing apparatus, recruitment of expert staff and collaborative work with our clients, research centres and universities.


Our objectives

To study the influence of alumina 

characteristics on the performance of customer applications and products in order to offer innovative technical solutions

To develop a thorough application know-how to be able to advise and to help our customers in their growth strategies

To promote and protect our innovations  with patents to insure our long term development.



Our solutions

The implementation of procedures using  the latest technical equipment will enable us to master key applications for markets such as standard and technical ceramics, refractories, abrasives and glasses.

Our capabilities:

  • Raw material analysis: chemical composition, shape and size of grains, microscopy
  • Suspension paste preparation: Viscosity, rheology, zetameter, spray dryer, kneader
  • Shaping and sintering: Slip casting, tape casting, press, extruder, dilatometer, climate chamber, Kilns, debinding kiln
  • Final performances: density, pore size, electronic microscope, hardness, mechanical strength, colour






Our Partners

  • FIRE - Federation for International Refractory Research and Education
  • CelSian Glass & Solar B.V
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • WUST - Wuhan University of Science and Technology
  • DEMA - Sao Paulo: Departamento de Engenharia de Materiais
  • ENSCI: Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Céramique Industrielle
  • SPCTS: Sciences des Procédés Céramiques et de Traitements de Surface
  • CENTHI:Conditions Extrêmes et Matériaux: Haute Température et Irradiation