October 28, 2021

Taking the next step toward commercializing ELYSIS

The aluminum industry took a major step forward to eliminate all direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aluminum smelting with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSISTM inert anode technology.

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ELYSIS & Alcoa’s Purpose

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Alcoa and Rio Tinto that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct GHG emissions from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen. ELYSIS is one potent example of how Alcoa lives its Purpose: Turn Raw Potential into Real Progress.

The raw potential of the carbon-free smelting process Alcoa invented is striking – it will drive real progress for our industry by significantly reducing the carbon footprint of smelting. The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminum smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA). ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024, followed by full commercialization.

The Real Progress It Will Bring
The new process will reduce operating costs of aluminum smelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminum smelters. ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by seven million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads. The ELYSIS technology addresses society’s need for low-carbon products, from mobile phones to electric vehicles, planes and building materials. ELYSIS is also aligned with Alcoa’s Vision to reinvent the aluminum industry for a sustainable future.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology. Learn more about the joint venture here.