Apple using world’s first low-carbon aluminium in the iPhone SE
William Gallagher | Mar 24, 2022
Apple plans to make the iPhone SE using low-carbon and carbon-free aluminum produced from an innovate new smelting process its $4.7 billion Green Bonds investment helped create.
Apple’s Green Bond projects have so far seen the company invest $4.7 billion in research projects since its launch in 2019. Now that work has resulted in new smelting technology which will Apple says will produce aluminum without creating any direct carbon emissions.
“Apple is committed to leaving the planet better than we found it, and our Green Bonds are a key tool to drive our environmental efforts forward,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, in a statement.
“Our investments are advancing the breakthrough technologies needed to reduce the carbon footprint of the materials we use,” she continued, “even as we move to using only recyclable and renewable materials across our products to conserve the earth’s finite resources.”
Apple is buying aluminium from Elysis, a company it describes as being “behind the world’s first direct carbon-free aluminum smelting process.” In what it said to be the “first commercial-purity primary aluminum [made[ at industrial scale,” the process produces oxygen instead of greenhouse gases.”
The research into the process was helped by Apple’s original investment partnership with Alcoa, Rio Tinto, and the governments of Canada and Quebec in 2018. Results from that were used in the production of the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
As an extension of that original work, Elysis has produced the new aluminum at its Industrial Research and Development Center in Quebec, using hydropower.
“This is the first time aluminum has been produced at this commercial purity, without any greenhouse gas emission and at industrial scale,” said Vincent Christ, Elysis CEO. “The sale to Apple confirms the market’s interest in aluminum produced using our breakthrough ELYSIS carbon-free smelting technology.”
“Today’s announcement proves that Elysis, a joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, was able to turn an idea into reality,” he continued. “We are excited to be working alongside Apple on this advancement, which has the potential to make lasting changes in how aluminum is produced.”
Apple says that this new process builds on the progress the company has made toward reducing the carbon impact of its product manufacturing.
And its Green Bonds – “among the largest in the private sector” – are continuing to be used to develop renewable energy sources. This includes Apple’s data center in Viborg, Denmark, which is powered by the “world’s largest onshore wind turbines.”