Alcoa Announces Agreement on Industrial-Scale Demonstration of ELYSIS™ Carbon-Free Smelting Technology

29 June 2024

Alcoa Corporation  today announced further progress on ELYSIS technology with Rio Tinto’s plans to launch the first industrial-scale demonstration of the breakthrough technology, which eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process and produces oxygen as a byproduct.

Established in 2018, ELYSIS is a technology partnership between Alcoa and Rio Tinto to advance technology first developed at the Alcoa Technical Center  outside of Pittsburgh. Rio Tinto’s demonstration project will occur at Arvida in Quebec, Canada, and includes 10 ELYSIS smelting pots operating at 100 kiloamperes a size similar to those operating at smaller-scale commercial smelters.

Alcoa has the right to purchase up to 40 percent of the metal produced from the demonstration at Arvida, allowing for Alcoa customers to benefit from ELYSIS’s carbon-free electrolytic process early in the technology development cycle. The target for first production is by 2027.

“Since inventing the aluminum smelting process in 1886, which is still in use today, Alcoa has continued to create transformational technologies to improve our industry,” said William F. (Bill) Oplinger, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alcoa Corporation. “We are proud to progress the technology initially developed at our technical center to its next phase within the ELYSIS partnership. Aluminum plays a critical role in the world’s energy transition and decarbonization efforts; with the ELYSIS technology, the smelting of this important metal can also be done without direct carbon emissions.”

To support the industrial demonstration, Alcoa will manufacture the proprietary ELYSIS anodes and cathodes at ATC, which will include installing and operating new equipment. Alcoa anticipates benefitting from the learnings of this phase of the demonstration and expects to apply them to future phases in ELYSIS’s development. Metal produced through the ELYSIS process will further improve upon Alcoa's lower carbon products already on the market, such as the Sustana™ product line.

As the technology provider, ELYSIS retains full ownership of the intellectual property of its proprietary technology.