Research and Development

Best practices: applied excellence

Case study

Alcoa Innovation supports growing Québec expertise in aluminum

Industrial Research Chair NSERC/Alcoa on Modelling of Aluminium Cells and Energy Efficiency (MACE3)

Québec expertise goes global

Québec expertise is at work every day at Alcoa’s Global Primary Products Center of Excellence. Alcoa Inc. chose to establish this international centre in Québec, specifically at the Deschambault Smelter, thereby demonstrating its confidence in the worldwide reach of Québec’s aluminum expertise.


The Technology, Innovation and Center of Excellence team is made up of more than 50 internationally renowned experts, nearly half of whom are from our plants in Québec. This group works with the team from the Deschambault Smelter to assess all known best practices, validate and implement them, and continuously attest to their effectiveness.

The activities of the Center of Excellence are focused in five main areas:

  • An applied research centre—The centre develops, perfects and rolls out technologies that apply to every phase of the aluminum production process, including energy efficiency optimization, air emissions reduction, materials selection, anode composition and organization; 
  • An industrial phase experimentation site—a section of the Deschambault Smelter is used for research, experimentation, technical testing, and performance testing. It is the preferred location for validating the technologies designed by the Alcoa Technical Center in Pittsburgh, the world's largest research center dedicated to aluminum; 
  • A support center for plants experiencing difficulties or for plant start-ups and modernization projects—Housing top-level experts, including many from Québec, this centre is particularly instrumental in cases where Alcoa plans to build or modernize an aluminum smelter; 
  • A training hub for Alcoans from all over the world; 
  • A centre for the development, transfer and standardization of best practices in manufacturing and human resource management


Supporting the development of more efficient practices

Alcoa is eligible for a variety of financial aid programs and tax credits from the federal and provincial governments, which enable it to invest more in research and development. Alcoa also benefits from energy efficiency grants.


Energy efficiency Chair

In 2010, Alcoa helped create the NSERC/Alcoa Industrial research chair on advanced modelling of electrolytic cells and energy efficiency (MACE3) at Laval University. Electrolytic cells are where it is most crucial that we reduce our energy consumption. Laval University’s research program is conducted in four areas: energy efficiency at electrolytic cells, anode quality, process stability, and recovery of heat loss. The research team consists of five professors, about 20 doctoral and Master’s students, and a group of research professionals and technicians. In 2012, the Chair’s students and professors published six articles in scientific reviews and made three presentations at the TMS 2012 conference of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.