Aluminum is abundant in more things than just soda cans; the metal is used in everything from transportation to power lines. It’s also a component of things like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs. But all that use has a big environmental impact. Mining, smelting, and casting aluminum is a carbon-intense process, and the production of new aluminum alone accounts for 1% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. But Apple is hoping to lessen their aluminum-associated carbon footprint, and the company announced this week that it bought the first-ever commercial batch of carbon-free aluminum. Apple purchased this carbon-free aluminum from Elysis, a Montreal-based joint venture between Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Aluminum, two of the world’s largest aluminum suppliers. Apple previously invested in Elysis, partnering with the two companies as well as the governments of Quebec and Canada to put in a combined $144 million towards the research and development of this carbon-free technology. [Photo: Apple] For more than 130 years, aluminum has been produced the same way, first by refining bauxite ore to get aluminum oxide, and then smelting the aluminum oxide to release pure aluminum. It’s during this smelting process, which passes an electric current through large blocks […]

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