Apple has bought its first-ever “commercial batch” of carbon-free aluminium from a joint venture between two of the world’s biggest aluminium suppliers.
Elysis, a Montreal-based joint venture of Alcoa Corp and Rio Tinto, will produce the metal without any direct carbon dioxide emissions, using a carbon-free aluminium smelting technology.
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The aluminium will be shipped this month from an Alcoa research facility in Pittsburgh and used in Apple products. The technology company did not mention which Apple products specifically.
The patent-protected technology, developed by Alcoa, has been producing metal at different R&D scales at the Alcoa Technical Center since 2009.
The smelting process involves passing an electrical current through a large block of carbon called an anode, which burns off during the process and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Apple uses aluminium housings for its electronics, including iPhones, Apple Watches and Mac computers. Apple last year introduced Mac models that use recycled aluminium.
Elysis is working to revolutionise the aluminium industry with an innovation that emits pure oxygen, eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions and reduces operating costs when compared to the traditional smelting process.
Apple partnered with both aluminium companies, and the Governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined $144 million (£110m, €130m) to future research and development.
Apple and Elysis have not disclosed the size or cost of the first purchase.