ELYSIS has selected Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter, located in Quebec in Canada, for the first installation and demonstration of its inert anode technology at a commercial size of 450 kiloamperes (kA), which is a common capacity for modern, full-scale smelters.
ELYSIS is a joint venture company, led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa, that is working to commercialise a new technology to make aluminium that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
As part of its technology development and scale-up, ELYSIS will install industrial inert anode prototype cells at the end of an existing potline at the Alma smelter to demonstrate the technology’s effectiveness at a commercial scale in an industrial operating environment. This will build on ongoing work at the nearby ELYSIS Industrial Research and Development Centre, also located in the Saguenay region of Quebec.
ELYSIS plans to commercialise its breakthrough technology in 2024, for use in retrofitting existing smelters and installation in new facilities.
The 450 kA cells at Alma will be supported by a $20 million CAD investment from the Government of Quebec to help bring forward the start of work at the site and to further strengthen the capability of manufacturing businesses in the region to supply specialised equipment required for the ELYSIS technology.
Chief Executive Officer, ELYSIS, Vincent Christ, said the team is thrilled to be taking a significant step forward in the development of technology that will position ELYSIS as a leader of aluminium industry technology.
“We look forward to using the new 450 kA inert anode cells to demonstrate to the industry that decarbonising aluminium production while improving its competitiveness is not just a mere dream,” Mr Christ said.
Alcoa’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ben Kahrs, also commented: “Innovation is a key enabler to help the global aluminium industry further decarbonise, and we are proud to see the technology that Alcoa first developed advance further with a potential retrofit solution.”
“The ELYSIS technology offers the opportunity to improve the competitiveness of existing smelters, not only eliminating all GHG emissions, but also boosting productivity and improving costs.”
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 will reduce operating costs of aluminium smelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tonnes, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.