Alcoa and Rio Tinto joint venture Elysis has announced the site for its new R&D facility in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in Québec.
The new Elysis R&D Centre will be located at Rio Tinto’s complexe Jonquière, the site of the Arvida smelter, Vaudreuil refinery and Arvida R&D Centre. It is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2020. The R&D Centre will directly employ around 25 experts when it is fully operational.
Elysis is working to commercialize by 2024 a breakthrough technology that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional aluminium smelting process, instead producing pure oxygen. The Elysis process has the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of the aluminium industry on a global scale, claims the company.
The Elysis team will continue to work in close collaboration with the Alcoa Technical Centre (ATC) near Pittsburgh in the USA, where this patent-protected technology was invented and has been producing metal at different scales since 2009. The Alcoa Technical Centre provides support to Elysis on the proprietary anode and cathode materials that are essential to this advanced smelting process.
The technology at a glance
The Elysis technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials. The new process aims to reduce operating costs of aluminium smelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters. Elysis will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa, Rio Tinto, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec provided a combined investment of CAD188 million to create Elysis and to see this technology reach commercial maturity in 2024.
In Canada alone, the Elysis technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by seven million tonnes, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
“This new technology can play an important role in helping to address the climate change challenge by delivering carbon free aluminium smelting. We are proud to be part of this pioneering project that could create significant value and allow customers to meet the growing consumer demand for responsible products.” – Alf Barrios, chief executive, Rio Tinto Aluminium
“We look forward to the additional research and development work that will take place in Quebec to scale-up the technology that we first developed, which has the potential to transform the global aluminium industry and create an even more sustainable future.” – Tim Reyes, President of Alcoa Aluminium and Executive Vice President, Alcoa Corporation
“The Elysis technology is undoubtedly one of the most important innovations within the aluminium industry and a major step forward in tackling climate change. We are proud to contribute to the realization of this initiative that will draw on the exceptional expertise of this Quebec industry, one in which a large number of companies are based in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. We are delighted to welcome the establishment of this research and development centre in Saguenay which is an important step toward a commercial-scale demonstration of this revolutionary technology.” – Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister Responsible for the Lanaudière Region