Alcoa’s plans for new aluminum capacity hinge on Elysis technology: executives – S&P Global


No new capacity will utilize traditional smelting

Elysis deployment could start in 2024 if development succeeds

Any plans for Alcoa to build new aluminum smelting capacity across its global operations will hinge on the successful development of its inert anode Elysis technology, which is slated to reach commercial deployment as early as 2024, company executives said Nov. 9.

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“When we look to the future, the answer is very much tied into Elysis and also tied into the developments of the market and how we see some of those supply-demand fundamentals coming through,” CEO Roy Harvey told investors during an annual meeting, in reference to Alcoa’s future growth outlook.

“We are putting all of our efforts and all of our concentration into making Elysis very successful,” Harvey said.

Until Elysis has reached commercial viability, Harvey said Alcoa has no plans to expand existing facilities or build new smelters that utilize the traditional, more carbon-intensive Hall-Héroult smelting process. Instead, the company will consider were Elysis can be retrofitted into current smelters or installed in new smelters, he added.

“We need the technology to work,” Harvey said of Elysis. “We can start doing some of the design work and some of the work with governments… but in the end, that first real greenfield or brownfield or retrofit opportunity to put Elysis into place would come once it’s been demonstrated.”

Elysis is a joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, and the technology is now being tested at the latter’s Alma smelter in Quebec.

The Elysis process utilizes an inert anode, rather than a carbon-based anode, in a smelter cell to eliminate all direct greenhouse gases from conventional aluminum smelting and instead emit oxygen. The technology is expected to be installed primarily in smelters that are powered by renewable energy.

Though installation of the technology in smelters is projected to begin in 2024, Alcoa Chief Innovation Officer Benjamin Kahrs said aluminum production from Elysis is not expected until at least 2026.

The technology will be implemented in smelters operated by the joint venture partners, but Elysis will also be licensed out to third-party companies to a certain extent, Kahrs added.

“If you think about the targets that are set forth for the aluminum industry, 75% of all the CO2 in the entire industry has to be out by 2035… and then by 2050, 97% …….


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