Apple says they’ve found a ‘revolutionary’ way to make their devices even more environmentally friendly

“Apple has teamed up with aluminum producers Alcoa and Rio Tinto on a joint venture aimed at smelting aluminum without emitting greenhouse gases,” Ryan Browne reports for CNBC. “The tech company said Thursday that ‘revolutionary’ new technology created by the project replaces the use of carbon, which is normally used in the smelting process, with an advanced conductive material.”

“Through this method, oxygen is released as a result instead of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, meaning the metal can be produced in an environmentally clean way,” Browne reports. “Aluminum is used in most of Apple’s popular products, including the iPhone, iPad and iMac.”

“Apple, Alcoa, Rio Tinto and the governments of Canada and Quebec will collectively invest a total of $144 million to fund further research and development into the technology,” Browne reports. “Apple said the new process was discovered by three of its engineers, Brian Lynch, Jim Yurko and Katie Sassaman, at Alcoa. Apple, Alcao and Rio Tinto hope to launch the patent-pending technology for commercial release by 2024.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple. Revolutionizing even 130-year-old industries.

Apple paves the way for breakthrough carbon-free aluminum smelting method – May 10, 2018


  1. To understand Apple is to realize that it has leveraged its computer and software design expertise to expand philosophically and technologically into adjacent areas: Materials, intelligence, architectural design, and environmental leadership, all this with the goal to make the world into a more pleasant and creative place.

  2. …just let me know when Apple starts letting me upgrade my ram and hdd again in my MacBook Pro.

    That’s an incredible way to stay environmentally friendly….

    Oh wait, that would eat into their profits too much, I guess they won’t try to be that environmentally friendly then…

  3. I just just shake my head when ever I read “carbon dioxide a green house gas”.
    Really? What the fuck do you think will happen if all carbon dioxide was eliminated?
    1- Nirvana?
    2- Clean air and water?
    3- All plants dead in the entire world?

    Alex I’d like choice number 3.

    You sheep are so gullible.

    1. Uh, no one is suggesting “eliminating” carbon dioxide, or methane, or any other greenhouse gas. The sensible people on the planet just want to reduce the levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere to levels that won’t trigger negative climate effects (like submerging low-lying areas around the globe).

      We’ve actually got the technology to make it happen, but there’s too much profit in old technologies to have it happen any time soon.

    2. More threatening to this world are people with a low level of information and a low IQ. Those two things are enormously more dangerous than greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

    3. Paul,

      The two problems are interrelated: the danger from greenhouse gases would be manageable if there weren’t so many uninformed people who refuse to accept the danger.

      The notion of CO2 as a “greenhouse gas” isn’t some fantasy dreamed up by liberals like Al Gore. Although the term wasn’t used in the modern sense until 1901 (by Nils Gustaf Ekholm), the greenhouse effect itself was first suggested by Joseph Fourier in 1824. It was confirmed experimentally in some detail by John Tyndall in 1859. No later than 1896, scientists were already making quantitative predictions of the impact of the higher CO2 levels that were already being observed and were regarded as an inevitable result of the Industrial Revolution. Those models have become increasingly sophisticated over the last 122 years.

      It honestly isn’t rocket science; it is much better established. When you completely burn a ton of carbon in air, you produce 3.66 tons of carbon dioxide. At standard temperature and pressure. that gas will occupy 128,000 US gallons of volume. The world is burning over 8000 million tons of coal each year, producing up to 25 billion tons of CO2 (8 cubic kilometers of pure greenhouse gas to mix with the atmosphere). That ignores the impact from burning other fuels and from the destruction of many of the green plants that had kept the atmosphere roughly in equilibrium before industrialization. None of that is opinion or fake news. It is readily confirmable scientific fact.

      So is the observed and undisputed rise in global CO2 levels, which is in proportion to the increase in human CO2 production (even when the natural production of greenhouse gases in natural processes like volcanos and forest fires is accounted for). In turn, the observed rise in global temperatures is in general proportion to the rise in greenhouse gas levels. The undisputed rise in sea levels can best be accounted for by the observed melting of glaciers and expansion of heated sea water, which can (again) be best accounted for by application of the greenhouse effect.

      The only significant downside to reducing CO2 emissions by moving to the increased use of renewable resources is the impact on employees and investors in the fossil fuel industries. Any impact on the wider economy is more than offset by benefits. Example: the Clean Power Plan would save America about $4 in healthcare expenses (air pollution is one of the biggest killers) for every $1 it costs. That doesn’t even include the costs associated with more frequent flooding due to higher sea levels and more energetic storms.

      Why is any of this controversial? As you say, Paul: a low level of information due to people not choosing to see reality.

  4. While I commend the new method that releases Oxygen over Carbon Dioxide, there is probably more ‘care’ involved during processing since you’re outputting a combustible/reactive gas in place of the non-combustible one.

  5. I’m a big fan of clean energy and fighting CO2 levels (right down to my solar panels and electric car), but I call BS here.

    CO2 is produced with the Hall Process because you have to break very strong Ti-O bonds and the C=O bonds in carbon dioxide are very strong, providing a thermodynamic sink.

    However, it takes a lot of energy to produce aluminum from ore even with that energy bonus. Up to 5% of the electric output of the entire country.

    If you are going to produce O2 as a byproduct instead of passing the oxygen to carbon, then you’re going to need even more electricity because CO2 is so much more stable than O2. That energy has to come from somewhere.

    Unless that extra electricity is made from zero-emission processes, then that “saved” CO2 is not saved at all – it’s simply moved from the smelting process to the electricity production process. And since electric production is itself inefficient, it seems to me that it would be more efficient to simply capture the CO2 or direct it into a polymer or biofuel pathway.

    Not to mention that aluminum is widely recycled which requires a fraction of the energy and carbon footprint compared to smelting ore.

    1. There is a reason why aluminium is a Canadian product. Canada have a grid that is 90% HEP. It is almost as good as solar power in terms of being “clean”. So using this near zero emission electricity source is ideal for this Apple process. But being such a fan of solar etc and seemingly possessing knowledge that indicates a university level education, you would know this. So why…….never mind.

  6. Apple engineers discovered the process? Did they shove the Alcoa staff aside and say “no, try this” or did Alcoa simply show the Apple employees their new process?

    According to the Alcoa press release, Apple’s involvement has been to facilitate negotiations between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, as well as providing 13m of the 188m dollars invested.

    1. daman,

      You ask a question in your first paragraph and then answer it in your second. Apple did not discover the process, but it did put two of the major industry players together and guaranteed a market for the slightly more expensive (short-run) but less harmful (and thus less expensive long-term) product from the process.

      As JimBob points out, the new process does require more electricity, but Apple is a leader in finding economic ways to shift from nonrenewable to renewable sources of power. That is a challenge in the US, where so much of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. It’s not even remotely a problem in Canada, which has abundant, cheap, and nonpolluting electricity.

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