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Apple invests $10 million in a greener method of aluminum production

Apple invests $10 million in a greener method of aluminum production
[Photo: volganet/Wikimedia Commons]

Apple uses a lot of aluminum in its products. Unfortunately, the way aluminum is produced hasn’t changed much in the last 100+ years. It’s pretty dirty, releasing greenhouses gases into the air. Aluminum is one of eight materials that Apple is focused on to find cleaner, greener ways of production.

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Today Apple says it’s partnering with the aluminum producer Alcoa and the smelting tech company Rio Tinto to develop a new way of producing aluminum that releases oxygen, not carbon dioxide. The three companies, along with the governments of Canada and Quebec are investing a combined $144 million in the R&D, which is being done near Alcoa’s headquarters in Pittsburg. Apple’s share is $10.1 million (U.S.). The governments are investing about $47 million (U.S.).

Alcoa and Rio Tinto believe the new method will be done and packaged in 2024. At that point the two will begin licensing the tech to other aluminum producers, and, presumably, Alcoa will begin using it on a wide scale itself.

Justin Trudeau [Screenshot: Elysis]
The whole thing is fairly typical of how Apple plays in major green initiatives. It often acts as the catalyst that gets the conversations going; brings the right people, organizations, and money together; and then invests its own money to accelerate the development of green technologies. Finally, Apple promises to be the end customer of the product, in this case, green aluminum. It is using the same approach to build the solar and wind farms it needs to power its data centers.

The product was announced Thursday at an event in Quebec attended by Canada PM Justin Trudeau.

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