Alcoa and Rio Tinto announced a process to make aluminum that produces oxygen and eliminates all direct greenhouse-gas emissions from the traditional smelting process. To advance larger-scale development and commercialization of the new process, the companies are forming Elysis. The joint venture, 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.
When fully developed and implemented, the process will eliminate direct greenhouse-gas emissions from the smelting process and strengthen the closely integrated Canada-U.S. aluminum industry. The joint venture will also sell proprietary anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components. The patent-protected technology is currently producing metal at the Alcoa Technical Center near Pittsburgh, Pa., where the process has been operating at different scales since 2009.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest approximately $43 million over the next three years and contribute specific intellectual property and patents. The provincial government of Quebec will have a 3.5% equity stake in the joint venture, with the remaining ownership split evenly between Alcoa and Rio Tinto. Apple, which provided an investment of approximately $10 million, helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto on the carbon-free smelting process and has agreed to provide technical support to the JV partners.