Alcoa, Rio Tinto in Apple-backed JV for carbon-free aluminium technology

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A low-priced, long-term deal pairing Apple with metal giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto intends to eliminate greenhouse gases in manufacturing aluminum, the companies announced today.

Buying Aluminum in 2018? Rio said that if fully implemented at Canada's smelters, it could eliminate the equivalent of 6.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the announcement, Apple outlined that it helped bring Alcoa and Rio Tinto, two of world's largest aluminum producers together to work on the new process.

Elysis, 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.

Rio and Alcoa will invest $55 million each over three years for equal ownership, with the Quebec government to hold 3.5%.

Canada and the province of Quebec are also investing $C60 million in Elysis each.

It's easy to see why Apple's jumped at investing into tech here, investing $13 million CAD ($10 million USD) in the process.

"This discovery has been long sought in the aluminum industry", said Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey in the news release.

Elysis will also have USA investments, including funding to support a supply chain for the advanced conductive materials used to smelt the aluminum.

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Aluminium production accounts for around 0.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and demand for the metal is rising, not least because it is easy to recycle and makes for lighter cars and vehicles.

Apple said it had engineers looking for a greener way of producing aluminum, which is used in many Apple products.

"We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminium produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products", Cook said.

Vincent Christ, an experienced leader with more than 30 years' experience at Rio Tinto Aluminium, has been named Chief Executive Officer of Elysis.

Apple says the technology from Elysis is expected to enter the market by 2024.

Alcoa had designed a new approach, replacing carbon with an advanced conductive material that releases oxygen instead.

Alcoa has developed the technology, which is protected by 40 patent families and is ready for scale-up.

Aluminum giants Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Aluminum today announced a joint venture to commercialize patented technology that eliminates direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process, a key step in aluminum production. This is significant for Apple because it produces a number of devices ranging from the iPhone, MacBook and iMac that use aluminum and can now be sustainably manufactured with the help of this new process.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement with executives of the three companies on hand.