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With a Push From Apple, Rival Aluminum Makers Team Up Against CO2

Alcoa and Rio Tinto have developed a way to clean up one of the dirtiest metal-processing methods.

Traditional production of conventional aluminum alloys.

Traditional production of conventional aluminum alloys.

Photo: Getty Images

As David DeYoung, then a director of business technologies at Alcoa, walked into Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters in September 2015, he knew that the stakes were high.

DeYoung led a group of engineers who’d spent decades pursuing the holy grail for the notoriously dirty aluminum industry: a way to smelt the metal without producing any direct carbon emissions. Apple Inc., which Harbor Intelligence analyst Jorge Vazquez estimates uses almost 15,000 metric tons of aluminum annually for its electronics gear, had invited DeYoung to explain a potentially revolutionary carbonless manufacturing process for aluminum that his group was developing.