Apple’s partnered aluminum production companies, Alcoa Corporation, and Rio Tinto Aluminum, have come together to bring a revolutionary change in the production procedure of aluminum. It is a key material for Apple’s most popular products and is undoubtedly one of the most widely used elements across various industries.
The tech giant is collectively investing in the project with the two companies and the governments of Canada and Quebec. The combined investment amounts to $144 million and is dedicated to future research and development regarding the concerned project.
For the last 132 years (since 1886), the element has been produced by the smelting process that emits greenhouse gases. The joint venture aims at commercializing a patented technology that ensures the emission of oxygen instead of greenhouse gases during the process.
The announcement of the venture took place today, May 11, in Saguenay, Quebec. The chief attendees were Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, and Apple Senior Director Sarah Chandler.
Apple has been involved in R&D since 2015, when three engineers started looking for a refined process of mass-producing aluminum. The engineers of the company are Brian Lynch, Katie Sassaman, and Jim Yurko, who came across the solution with Alcoa “after meeting with the biggest aluminum companies, independent labs, and startups around the world.”
The traditional smelting process was founded by Charles Hall, Alcoa’s founder, in 1886. As part of the process, a strong electrical current is applied to the alumina, removing oxygen. The carbon material is used in this process, which burns and produces greenhouse gases. This material is used by the largest smelters and was as well used in Hall’s experiments.
Alcoa designed an entirely new process that substitutes carbon with an advanced conductive material that releases oxygen rather than carbon dioxide. The engineers came across this at a time when Alcoa intended to realize the process, for which it needed a partner.
This is where Rio Tinto arrived, thanks to the business development heads of Apple. Rio Tinto has a robust worldwide presence and is involved in smelting technology development, global sales, and commercialization.
The joint venture of Alcoa and Rio Tinto is named Elysis, which has a planned package for sales initiation in 2024. Apple will be providing technical support for the project. The patent for the technology is pending being granted and is already being used at the Alcoa Technical Center. Elysis will be providing over $30 million to the U.S. as an investment when the patent is granted.
Stay tuned to get hold of future developments regarding the evolution of the aluminum production process.