Canadian Manufacturing

Carbon free aluminium smelting at ELYSIS 

ELYSIS aims to have its technology available for installation from 2024 and the production of larger volumes of carbon-free aluminum approximately two years later.

November 5, 2021  by CM Staff

MONTREAL— Carbon free aluminium smelting for products ranging from smart phones to cars and drink cans is a step closer with ELYSIS producing aluminium without any direct greenhouse emissions at its Industrial Research and Development Center in Saguenay (QC), Canada.

Commercial demonstration in 2023

Work is now focused on accelerating the scale-up of the ELYSIS technology towards the demonstration of even larger commercial-size cells in 2023.

Construction of these prototype cells is now well underway at the end of an existing potline at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter. The smelting cells will operate on an electrical current of 450 kA, which is the commercial scale for many large, modern aluminium smelters. The industrial cells are designed to be used as a ‘drop-in’ replacement to retrofit existing smelters or build new ones and can be scalable to sizes as needed.

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With the current development pathway, ELYSIS aims to have its technology available for installation from 2024 and the production of larger volumes of carbon-free aluminum approximately two years later.

Scaling up supply chain in 2022

ELYSIS is beginning detailed planning to scale-up the supply chain for the technology’s upcoming commercialization. In 2022, ELYSIS will commence the design and engineering for a facility that can produce the materials fundamental to its inert anode, zero-carbon smelting process.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto launched the ELYSIS joint venture in 2018. The inert anode technology now being scaled-up by ELYSIS builds on a process first developed at the Alcoa Technical Center outside of Pittsburgh. The ELYSIS carbon-free smelting technology, which emits oxygen, also incorporates smelting cell design from Rio Tinto. The combination of these two innovations has led ELYSIS to develop an industrial breakthrough technology enabling sustainability and performance.

Aluminum produced during the ELYSIS research and development stage has already been used by Apple, a non-equity investor in the technology, ABInBev for Michelob Ultra cans and Audi for the wheels on its eTron GT.

“Congratulations to the workers at ELYSIS who have taken another step towards producing carbon-free aluminum. ELYSIS and key local players in the supply chain are making us a global leader in green aluminum. We are proud to support innovation and good jobs here at home – I look forward to full-scale production here in the years to come,” said Ben Kahrs, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Alcoa.


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