The new smelting process - which the companies say will also be called Elysis, in a nod to the electrolysis of alumina used to produce aluminum - uses an inert anode, rather than the carbon anodes used in conventional aluminum smelting.
Buying Aluminum in 2018? Even 130 years later, the largest smelters use a very similar process that involves burning a carbon material, producing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Apple played a crucial role in bringing the two aluminum producers together, and the company is part of a $144 million investment to support development of the clean aluminum production process along with Elysis and the Governments of Canada and Quebec. The province of Quebec will own a 3.5 per cent stake in Elysis, with the remaining equity split between Alcoa and Rio Tinto. Elysis will be based out of Montreal, Quebec where both governments of Canada and Quebec will invest $60 million CAD each.
"This discovery has been a long-sought goal for the aluminium industry, and this announcement is the culmination of the work from many dedicated Alcoa employees", Alcoa president and CEO Roy Harvey said. Around CAD$40m of investment will also go towards building a supporting supply chain in the US.
"Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come". It's pretty dirty, releasing greenhouses gases into the air. However, large-scale production of aluminum hasn't been an environmentally sustainable process and results in the emission of large-scale greenhouse gases, something contrary to Apple's commitment to being as green as possible.
Featured image: Alcoa and Rio Tinto announced Thursday they had developed a means of smelting the metal without generating any "direct greenhouse gas emissions".
Apple's involvement in the effort started three years ago when the company sent engineers in search of a cleaner way to produce aluminum.
"With the establishment of this new facility, Québec will continue to lead the world in the development of advanced aluminium smelting technologies". 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.
Technology giant Apple is also involved in the project, with its chief executive officer Tim Cook saying the company hoped to one day use aluminium made without direct greenhouse gas emissions in its products.
According to the joint venture, if Canadian smelters adopt the technology its carbon benefits would equate to taking 1.8 million cars off the road.