Low-carbon aluminium smelting joint venture ELYSIS will be installing its revolutionary new technology in Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelter at Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, according to an announcement made yesterday by the firm.
ELYSIS said in a press release that it plans to install and demonstrate its inert anode technology at the plant, which will be of a commercial size at 450 kiloamperes (kA). The technology will be installed at the end of an existing potline at the site in order to show that it can be scaled up to a size that is commercially viable.
The installation of inert anode technology will also build upon the work being carried out at the ELYSIS Industrial Research and Development Centre. The firm says it expects to begin commercializing the clean technology within the next three years.
“Our team is thrilled to be taking a significant step forward in the development of technology that will position ELYSIS as a leader of tomorrow’s aluminium industry technology,” said Vincent Christ, Chief Executive Officer, ELYSIS. “We would like to thank our provincial government for their support in our breakthrough technology. We look forward to using the new 450 kA inert anode cells to demonstrate to the industry that decarbonizing aluminium production while improving its competitiveness is not just a mere dream.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations, noted the distinct advantages to implementing ELYSIS’s technology at the Alma smelter.
“The road ahead is seeing the technology scaled up at our facilities in Québec, where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminum. Putting this hydropower together with the ELYSIS technology can take aluminum to the next level as a sustainable material, and help cut the carbon footprint of everything from cars to smartphones, buildings and food and beverage packaging.”
“Innovation is a key enabler to help the global aluminum industry further decarbonize, and we are proud to see the technology that Alcoa first developed advance further with a potential retrofit solution,” noted Ben Kahrs, Alcoa Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “The ELYSIS technology offers the opportunity to improve the competitiveness of existing smelters, not only eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions, but also boosting productivity and improving costs.”
ELYSIS is a joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto Group. The firm has developed a method of smelting primary aluminium that emits oxygen as a byproduct rather than the typical greenhouse gases produced by conventional aluminium smelting methods. The new technology is predicted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7 million tons per year in Canada while lasting 30 times longer than conventional equipment.