Alexander Chudaev/Adobe Stock
Major metals industry players Alcoa and Rio Tinto last week announced the world’s first carbon-free aluminum smelting process, which the firms billed as “the most significant innovation in the aluminium industry in more than a century.”
The firms announced the innovation, which is the development of a smelting process that yields oxygen and removes greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process, according to a joint announcement from the companies.
“To advance larger scale development and commercialization of the new process, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are forming Elysis, a joint venture company to further develop the new process with a technology package planned for sale beginning in 2024,” the Alcoa release stated.
“Elysis, which will be headquartered in Montreal with a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, will develop and license the technology so it can be used to retrofit existing smelters or build new facilities.”
According to the release, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are investing $55 million (CAD) in the venture, with Canada and Quebec investing $60 million (CAD) each.
Apple is also in on the venture, investing $13 million (CAD). Apple will also contribute technical support to the joint venture partners, according to the release.
“This discovery has been long sought in the aluminum industry, and this announcement is the culmination of the work from many dedicated Alcoa employees,” Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey said in the prepared statement. “Today, our history of innovation continues as we take aluminum’s sustainable advantage to a new level with the potential to improve the carbon footprint of a range of products from cars to consumer electronics.”
The announcement certainly would mark a victory for greener processes — and with the reported investment totals going into Elysis, there is quite a bit of institutional support behind it.