A method of producing aluminum in an electrolytic cell containing alumina dissolved in an electrolyte. The method comprises the steps of providing a molten salt electrolyte in an electrolytic cell having an anodic liner for containing the electrolyte, the liner having an anodic bottom and walls including at least one end wall extending upwardly from the anodic bottom, the anodic liner being substantially inert with respect to the molten electrolyte. A plurality of non-consumable anodes is provided and disposed vertically in the electrolyte. A plurality of cathodes is disposed vertically in the electrolyte in alternating relationship with the anodes. The anodes are electrically connected to the anodic liner. An electric current is passed through the anodic liner to the anodes, through the electrolyte to the cathodes, and aluminum is deposited on said cathodes. Oxygen bubbles are generated at the anodes and the anodic liner, the bubbles stirring the electrolyte. Molten aluminum is collected from the cathodes into a tubular member positioned underneath the cathodes. The tubular member is in liquid communication with each cathode to collect the molten aluminum therefrom while excluding electrolyte. Molten aluminum is delivered through the tubular member to a molten aluminum reservoir located substantially opposite the anodes and cathodes. The molten aluminum is collected from the cathodes and delivered to the reservoir while avoiding contact of the molten aluminum with the anodic bottom.
The invention embodied in the subject matter described herein was made during work financed by the following government contract: Department of Energy Office of Industrial Technologies Contract #DE-FC07-98ID13662.