The university announced on July 12 that engineer Robert Rapp is using fuel cell technology to design the electrode, which is an anode, to smelt aluminium. However, Rapp warned that the new technology would take many years and cost millions of dollars to perfect.

“This is a long shot with a very big potential payoff,” Rapp said. At present, almost the annual power consumption of New York City is devoured in smelting the U.S.’s aluminium – which only accounts for 17% of the world’s total, according to Ohio Sate University information.

For each pound of aluminium produced, 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide are created through the current system of smelting with carbon anodes.

The proposed new anode would use natural gas, carried in zirconia tubes to smelt the aluminium.

Rapp said that the new design would eliminate fluorocarbon production, halve carbon dioxide production and use 40% less electricity.

Besides reducing power consumption and pollution, the new anode would cut production costs by 25%, potentially benefiting aluminium-using industries, such as aviation, trains and cars, as well as cans, enormously.

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