Apple recently revealed that it has helped the companies Alcoa and Rio Tinto, currently the world’s largest aluminium producers to form a joint venture named Elysis, which intends to further develop the technology that enables the production of carbon free aluminium. As a consequence, in at most 6 years, Apple will be able to include the more sustainably manufactured aluminium in its products ranging from iPhones to MacBooks.
“If developed fully, the planned technological advance will entirely eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions, releasing oxygen instead of the carbon dioxide released by the conventional smelting process. “Aluminum has been mass produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall. The process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases. […]
Alcoa has designed a completely new process that replaces that carbon with an advanced conductive material, and instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen.”
Alcoa stated that it had been researching into this potentially major innovation for the aluminium industry at its facility close to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since 2009. It is hoped that the new process could prevent the release of approximately 6.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases if implemented fully, roughly equal to removing 1.8 million vehicles from the roads.
Apple declared that in 2015 three of its engineers began researching into better ways of producing aluminium, and has pledged an investment of $13 million CAD along with technical support to boost the venture it helped to facilitate.
“Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come. We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminum produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.” – Apple CEO Tim Cook
This environmental scheme has followed Apple’s announcement only last month that all of its facilities are now powered by 100% clean energy. Aside from Apple, Elysis will receive $60 million CAD each from the governments of Canada and Québec. the companies themselves will input $55 million CAD over a period of three years.