Apple using world's first low-carbon aluminium in the iPhone SE

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 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."

Low-carbon aluminum produced by the new process. Source: Apple
Low-carbon aluminum produced by the new process. Source: Apple


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."

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,919member
    Good for Apple, Consumers and environment. Wish Apple made design change to SE3 to make it edge-to-edge larger screen and dual camera and for such iPhone SE, don't like but don't mind paying $450. Let's hope SE4 is different.
    edited March 2022 jas99
  • Reply 2 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Would be interested to hear how the process works.  Doesn't sound plausible.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,829member
    crowley said:
    Would be interested to hear how the process works.  Doesn't sound plausible.
    I am not willing to dismiss it offhand. There are a number of term that I’d like to know exactly what they mean. But overall I think this is a very good thing. 
  • Reply 4 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    DAalseth said:
    crowley said:
    Would be interested to hear how the process works.  Doesn't sound plausible.
    I am not willing to dismiss it offhand. There are a number of term that I’d like to know exactly what they mean. But overall I think this is a very good thing. 
    I'm certainly not dismissing it, that it doesn't sound plausible is why I'd be interested to know more. 
  • Reply 5 of 11

    Apple using world's first low-carbon aluminium in the iPhone SE


    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.

    Which is it? Is Apple using low-carbon aluminum or planning to use low-carbon aluminum in the SE? I can see in the linked Apple PR, that they intend to use the low-carbon aluminum in the SE. So that mean they didn't start producing the SE3 with low-carbon aluminum and will or might be switching over? 
  • Reply 6 of 11
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,770member
    wood1208 said:
    Good for Apple, Consumers and environment. Wish Apple made design change to SE3 to make it edge-to-edge larger screen and dual camera and for such iPhone SE, don't like but don't mind paying $450. Let's hope SE4 is different.
    It sounds like what you’re actually saying is that you wish the 13 or the 13 Mini cost the same as the SE. Well, so does everybody else. Unfortunately though, premium components don’t grow on trees. 
    scstrrf
  • Reply 7 of 11
    thttht Posts: 5,530member

    Apple using world's first low-carbon aluminium in the iPhone SE


    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.

    Which is it? Is Apple using low-carbon aluminum or planning to use low-carbon aluminum in the SE? I can see in the linked Apple PR, that they intend to use the low-carbon aluminum in the SE. So that mean they didn't start producing the SE3 with low-carbon aluminum and will or might be switching over? 
    It's planning to use. From Apple's press release today:

    "As part of this work, Apple is purchasing direct carbon-free aluminum following a major advancement in smelting technology to reduce emissions. The aluminum is the first to be manufactured at industrial scale outside of a laboratory without creating any direct carbon emissions during the smelting process. The company intends for the material to be introduced in the iPhone SE. ... Apple will purchase this first batch of commercial-purity, low-carbon aluminum from ELYSIS for intended use in the iPhone SE."

    At some point, units of the iPhone SE will simply start using this aluminum. Apple purchased the first batch of zero/low carbon emissions aluminum from this Elysis joint venture in 2019 which they tested its use on the MBP16: "Apple purchased the first-ever commercial batch of aluminum resulting from the joint venture, using it in the production of the 16-inch MacBook Pro". They facilitated the joint venture. They say the Audi uses their aluminum for the wheels of the Audi e-Tron GT, so hopefully they will get other high paying, high demand customers too. Since that initial purchase, the company has been scaling their electrolysis process for mass manufacturing. So, they are getting there.

    The company or the joint venture appears to be the first company to develop a carbon anode (likely a carbon anode) that won't interact with the freed O2 in the aluminum electrolysis process. The carbon from the anode combines with the free oxygen from aluminum oxide, resulting in CO2 being emitted from the process. They call their anodes "inert", which probably means what it says, their anodes don't interact with the byproducts of the AlO3 electrolysis process, resulting in both pure enough aluminum and only oxygen emissions.

    kurai_kagejas99
  • Reply 8 of 11
    The headline says Apple is using. Everything else is plan or planning.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    thttht Posts: 5,530member
    The headline says Apple is using. Everything else is plan or planning.
    If they were using it in the just announced iPhone SE, they would have said so during the iPhone SE announcement on March 8. It would have been a big feature on their iPhone SE environment slide.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    jas99jas99 Posts: 158member
    Congratulations to Apple for funding the research leading to this breakthrough. 
    This is a big, big deal.
    I can see people don’t understand just how big. 
    Apple is an amazing company that does things no other company can do. 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Good news.  Now if we can just get Apple to stop pushing power wasting "wireless" (that isn't wireless) charging...
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