Apple Begins Buying Aluminum Made Using Carbon-Free Process for Future Products

Carbon-Free Aluminum Smelting By Apple-Backed Elysis

Apple has started buying aluminum made using a revolutionary, carbon emissions-free process from Elysis. Elysis is a joint venture between two of the world’s biggest aluminum suppliers. The consumer tech giant had announced its plans to use carbon-free aluminum last year in some of its future products.

The new aluminum smelting process reduces the environmental impact. It is created by Montreal-based firm Elysis, a joint venture by Alcoa Corp and Rio Tinto. The joint venture received funds of $144 million by Apple and the Canadian government and the province of Quebec.

Usually, the aluminum smelting process is considered extremely carbon-intensive as it required passing electricity through a carbon anode, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The conventional method is linked to air pollution and climate change, which is bad for the planet’s environment. Elysis’ new process, however, uses a ceramic anode. When electrical current is passed through a ceramic anode, it emits oxygen instead of carbon, making it environment-friendly.

Apple purchased the first batch of aluminum from Elysis, and it will be shipped from an Alcoa research facility in Pittsburgh to be used in Cupertino-based firm’s products. While the company didn’t mention which products would first start using the new metal, it would be safe to assume that it would be used in iPhones, Macs, Apple Watches, and iPads in the future.

Apple’s Vice President, Lisa Jackson, said, “For more than 130 years, aluminum – a material common to so many products consumers use daily – has been produced the same way. That’s about to change.” The company started using recycled aluminum for manufacturing Macs, improving the firm’s image, and making it appear environment-friendly.

The aluminum producing joint venture, which test produced the metal, plans to commercialize the new smelting process by 2024 to eliminate the emission of greenhouse gas. The firm states that it intends to license its technology and that existing smelting plants can be modified to use the new process.

The iPhone-maker didn’t reveal the cost of the first purchase. However, Elysis mentioned that the new smelting process is expected to have lower operating costs than the conventional method.

The Alcoa-Rio joint venture, backed by Apple, plans to manufacture aluminum using the new process at a CAD 50 million-facility in Saguenay, Quebec. This new facility is scheduled to come online in the second half of 2020.

Source: Reuters