Alcoa Pledges Low Carbon Emissions for Future Aluminum Mills
(Bloomberg) -- Alcoa Corp., which traces its history to the discovery of the traditional, carbon-intensive aluminum-making process, will now only build low-emission mills.
The Pittsburgh-based producer said any new mills will be built using its Elysis technology, and it also will focus on a proprietary new process that turns low-quality scrap aluminum into high-purity metal used in fighter jets. The company didn’t outline whether it would build a new plant any time soon.
The decision to begin turning away from the traditional aluminum-making process shows the increasing shift by heavy manufacturing industries to embrace new technologies that will help them get closer to net-zero emission targets by 2050.
“We’ve decided we’re not going to build another conventional smelter, if we build another smelter it’s going to be with the technology of Elysis,” Ben Kahrs, the chief innovation officer at Alcoa, said in an interview. “We want to reinvent the aluminum business for the sustainable future.”
Elysis, the joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto that smelts aluminum through a process that eliminates any direct carbon emissions, announced last week it’s a step closer to producing at commercial scale.
Alcoa said it’s also launching a program to design an alumina refinery that will eliminate emissions. Alumina, a key material needed to make aluminum, accounts for about half of the total carbon emissions from producing the final metal product. Alumina refining accounts for more than a quarter of Alcoa’s annual revenue.
Alcoa founder Charles Martin Hall was the inventor of a method for producing aluminum more than 125 years ago.
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