Construction begins on Elysis R&D centre

Elysis marked the start of construction of its research and development centre in Saguenay, Quebec, Canada on August 16
Construction begins on Elysis R&D centre Construction begins on Elysis R&D centre Construction begins on Elysis R&D centre Construction begins on Elysis R&D centre Construction begins on Elysis R&D centre

Andrée Laforest, Quebec’s minister of municipal affairs and housing and minister responsible for the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Region, speaks at the event at the planned R&D facility on August 16

Elysis is a technology company that was created by a joint venture partnership between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, and supported in its development by Apple, with the goal of revolutionising the way aluminium is produced across the globe.

At the centre, technical experts will continue to advance Elysis' technology that eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the traditional aluminium smelting process, instead producing pure oxygen. The Elysis technology could have the potential to considerably reduce the environmental footprint of the global aluminium industry.

The planned facility is located within Rio Tinto's Complexe Jonquière, the site of the Arvida smelter, Vaudreuil refinery and Arvida research and development centre. The C$50 million (US$37.7 million) construction project is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2020, employing 25 technical experts.

Elysis will continue to work closely with the Rio Tinto technology design team in France and Alcoa's Technical Center (ATC), near Pittsburgh in the US, where the 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.

ATC 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.

Elysis stated that its technology answers the global trend toward manufacturing products with a smaller carbon footprint, from smartphones to cars, planes and building materials.

The process can reduce the operating costs of aluminium plants while increasing their production capacity and 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 7Mt, equivalent to removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.

Elysis also has the exclusive right to sell the materials used in manufacturing the new generation anodes and cathodes, which can last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Vincent Christ, CEO of Elysis, said: "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 recognised for its expertise and know-how."

Gervais Jacques, managing director, Atlantic Operations at Rio Tinto Aluminium, added: "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."

Jean-François Cyr, president of Alcoa Canada and vice president, operations - Americas at Alcoa Aluminum, commented: "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."