Story image

Apple's new carbon-free aluminium set to revolutionise manufacturing

16 May 18

Aluminium has been around for over 130 years.  

As a core material in many of Apple’s products, aluminium is used in mass around the world by large corporations and has been produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by American chemist Charles Hall.

This process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases, harming the environment.

However, this may all be about to change following the formation of a joint venture between two aluminium giants - Rio Tinto Aluminium, and Alcoa, a manufacturing company founded by Charles Hall himself. 

Alcoa has designed a completely new process of producing aluminium which replaces carbon with advanced conductive material, and instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen.

But, to get this method off the ground, Alcoa teamed up with Rio Tinto, which brings deep experience in smelting technology development to the newly formed joint venture.  

The venture, called Elysis, will work to develop this technology further for larger scale production and commercialisation, with a package planned for sale beginning in 2024.

Apple says it is helping accelerate the development of this technology by also partnering with both companies, as well as joining forces with the Governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined total of US$144 million.

Apple says its involvement in the consortium is driven by its commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its products and comes only a month after the tech giant announced that all of its facilities are now powered with 100% clean energy.

Additionally, as part of the company’s goal to eventually make all of its products from recycled or renewable materials, it debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhones to recover valuable parts for future high tech recycling.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company’s is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come.

“We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminium produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.”

The patent-pending technology is already in use at the Alcoa Technical Center, outside Pittsburgh, and Apple says this project will invest more than US$30 million in the United States.

Once fully developed and implemented, Apple believes this new method has the potential to eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions from the smelting process around the world.

GirlBoss wins 2018 YES Emerging Alumni of the Year Award
The people have spoken – GirlBoss CEO and founder Alexia Hilbertidou has been crowned this year’s Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Emerging Alumni of the Year.
IDC: Standalone VR headset shipments grow 428.6% in 3Q18
The VR headset market returned to growth in 3Q18 after four consecutive quarters of decline and now makes up 97% of the combined market.
Meet Rentbot, the chatbot that can help with tenancy law
If you find yourself in a tricky situation  - or if you just want to understand your rights as a landlord or tenant, you can now turn to a chatbot for help.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) finally releases on PS4
PUBG on PS4 feels like it’s still in Early Access as the graphics look horribly outdated and the game runs poorly too. 
How AI can fundamentally change the business landscape
“This is an extremely interesting if not pivotal time to discuss how AI is being deployed and leveraged, both in business and at home.”
CERT NZ highlights rise of unauthorised access incidents
“In one case, the attacker gained access and tracked the business’s emails for at least six months. They gathered extensive knowledge of the business’s billing cycles."
Report finds GCSB in compliance with NZ rights
The Inspector-General has given the GCSB its compliance tick of approval for the fourth year in a row.
Game review: Just Cause 4 on PC
Rico Rodriguez returns to wreak over-the-top havoc for a fourth time. This time the island nation of Solís is our hero’s sandbox, ripe for destruction.