Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Group joint venture ELYSIS commenced construction of its first commercial-scale prototype cells utilizing inert anode technology in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec this week.
The prototype cells now under construction will utilize an electrical current of 450 kA, which is comparable to potlines at major aluminium smelters around the world. However, instead of emitting greenhouse gases, the technique will produce oxygen.
ELYSIS says the new technology will dramatically lower the carbon footprint of the aluminium industry upon its widespread adoption, revolutionizing the sector entirely.
In addition to commencing construction, the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced an additional grant of C$20 million by the Canadian government to ELYSIS for the project. The firm said the additional investment will allow it to build a showroom at the site that will help recruit new customers and develop the supply chain to the plant.
Vincent Christ, CEO of ELYSIS, explained the importance of the moment in a related press release.
“This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS’ zero CO2 technology and Quebec’s renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
“We appreciate the support of the Government of Canada and its invaluable assistance in helping to support the continued research and development of the ELYSIS technology,” added Louis Langlois, President, Alcoa Canada and ELYSIS board member. “We are proud to have developed the carbon-free smelting process that became the basis of this joint venture, which offers tremendous opportunity to address the challenges of climate change and contribute to improved environmental performance.”