Apple Backs a New Joint Venture for Zero-Carbon Aluminum Smelting

Aluminum

Aluminum

"We're proud to participate in the ambitious new job, and look forward to a single day having the capability touse aluminum created without lead greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacture of the products".

Rio and Alcoa announced the formation of Montreal-based joint venture company, Elysis to develop and commercialise the process, in the presence of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. The provincial government of Quebec will have a 3.5 percent equity stake in the joint venture with the remaining ownership split evenly between Alcoa and Rio Tinto.

Apple has a lot of environmentally friendly initiatives, like using renewable energy to power its facilities and encouraging suppliers to do the same.

Apple has helped accelerate the development of the technology. The plan is to have the carbon-free smelter technology available in early 2024.

As of now, aluminum is mass produced by a 130-year-old technique pioneered by Alcoa's founder, Charles Hall in 1886.

Smelting aluminum - the process of extracting the metal from its oxide ore - requires huge amounts of carbon to conduct electricity and break down the aluminum oxide, releasing carbon dioxide and harmful fluorinated gases into the atmosphere. According to a 2015 Greenhouse Gas Report from the Washington state Department of Ecology, the Ferndale facility emitted almost 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent that year.

"In many cases, the dramatic increase in materials production emissions for vehicles lightweighted with aluminum instead of AHSS is never offset by emissions reduction benefits during the vehicles useful lifetime", a Steel Market Development Institute news release stated.

Apple's involvement in the effort started three years ago when the company sent engineers in search of a cleaner way to produce aluminum.

Apple, which put forth $13 million, helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto and has vowed to provide technical support as the project progresses.

Canada and the province of Quebec are also investing $C60 million in Elysis each. "The research, to be done in the Saguenay region, will also contribute to the maintenance and development of a world-class expertise in Quebec", added Jean Simard.

"Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come", Cook said.

If the new process works at scale, it could be significant in the race to lower the production of greenhouses gases that cause climate change.

Alcoa (NYSE: AA) is a global industry leader in bauxite, alumina, and aluminum products, and is built on a foundation of strong values and operating excellence dating back almost 130 years to the world-changing discovery that made aluminum an affordable and vital part of modern life. This represents an amount roughly equal to taking almost 1.8 million light-duty vehicles off the road.

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