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New ELYSIS research centre to be set up in Saguenay

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

On Tuesday this week, ELYSIS announced the site for its new research and development facility in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in Québec, which will directly employ more than 25 experts when it is fully operational.

The ELYSIS joint venture, by global aluminium industry leaders Rio Tinto and Alcoa, is working to commercialise by 2024 a breakthrough technology that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional aluminium smelting process, instead producing pure oxygen. The ELYSISTM process has the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of the aluminium industry on a global scale.

The new ELYSIS Research and Development Center will be located at Rio Tinto's Complexe Jonquière, the site of the Arvida smelter, Vaudreuil refinery and Arvida Research and Development Centre. It is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2020.

The new research centre will be located in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean because of the region's notable expertise in the aluminium sector and financial backing from both the Quebec and Canadian governments.

The ELYSIS team will continue to work in close collaboration with the Alcoa Technical Center (ATC) near Pittsburgh in the US, where this patent-protected technology was invented and has been producing metal at different scales since 2009. The Alcoa Technical Center provides support to ELYSIS on the proprietary anode and cathode materials that are essential to this advanced smelting process.

The technology at a glance

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs of aluminium smelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSISTM technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million t, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

"This new technology can play an important role in helping to address the climate change challenge by delivering carbon free aluminium smelting. We are proud to be part of this pioneering project that could create significant value and allow customers to meet the growing consumer demand for responsible products."said Alf Barrios, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Aluminium.

He added: "With the development of this research centre, we can proudly root our company in Québec, and in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean in particular. Our team is enthusiastic about working collaboratively to refine our technology so we can help bring the aluminium industry to new levels and make it even more sustainable."

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