Technology company Elysis has officially launched construction on its R&D Centre in Saguenay.
Elysis and its technical experts aim to advance the breakthrough technology that eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the aluminium smelting process. Representatives from the governments of Québec and Canada and senior leaders from Elysis, Alcoa and Rio Tinto attended the event at the planned facility, located within Rio Tinto’s Complexe Jonquière, the site of the Arvida smelter, Vaudreuil refinery and Arvida Research and Development Centre. The CA$50 million construction project is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2020, employing 25 technical experts.
The Elysis joint venture of Alcoa and Rio Tinto is at the heart of a new revolutionary process to make aluminium. This disruptive process will eliminate all direct GHG emissions from the traditional aluminium process, and instead emit pure oxygen. The Elysis technology has the potential to considerably reduce the environmental footprint of the global aluminium industry.
Elysis will continue to work closely with the Rio Tinto technology design team in France and Alcoa's Technical Centre (ATC), near Pittsburgh in the United States, where this patented technology was invented by Alcoa. Since 2009, Alcoa has been producing research-scale metal at ATC with no direct carbon emissions from the smelting process.
Alcoa's Technical Centre provides support to Elysis for the materials used to manufacture 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 so it can be retrofitted into existing smelters or used for new ones.
Alcoa, Rio Tinto, the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec and Apple provided a combined investment of CS$188 million to create Elysis and to see this technology reach commercial maturity in 2024.
The technology in brief
- The Elysis technology answers the global trend toward manufacturing products with a smaller carbon footprint, from smartphones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce the operating costs of aluminium plants while increasing their production capacity. It can be used both in new plants and existing facilities.
- In Canada alone the Elysis technology has the potential to reduce annual GHG emissions by 7 million tonnes, equivalent to removing 1.8 million cars from our roads.
- Elysis also has the exclusive right to sell the materials used in manufacturing the new generation anodes and cathodes, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
“The launch of construction for the Elysis Research and Development Centre marks a significant step towards bringing this technology to the market by 2024. We are looking forward to the work that will take place in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, a region internationally recognized for its expertise and know-how,” said Vincent Christ, CEO of Elysis.
“The work being done to further develop this breakthrough technology here in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean is at the forefront of the global aluminium industry. It can help to drive the global transition to a low-carbon economy, create significant value and allow customers to meet the growing consumer demand for responsible products,” said Gervais Jacques, managing director Atlantic Operations, Rio Tinto Aluminium.
“Elysis is a source of great pride for all Alcoa employees. We look forward to seeing the technology reach the market and today's announcement is an important step to further strengthen the sustainable value chain of the Quebec aluminium industry,” said Jean-François Cyr, president of Alcoa Canada.
“Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean aluminium producers are world leaders. They contribute to the growth of our economy and support good jobs for the middle class. That’s why we are very proud to be a partner of the Elysis joint venture by investing CA$60 million in this major project, which will have benefits here in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, across Quebec and Canada, and well beyond our borders,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.