Product innovation

Product innovation

Essential materials for evolving needs

Product innovations address the growing demand for an ever-increasing range of materials essential for human progress.

At Rio Tinto, we are committed to using innovative technology to develop new products and enhance existing ones. It’s not about pursuing innovation for its own sake – it's about using innovation to drive productivity and foster long-term sustainability. That is why we have worked hard to create a culture where innovation thrives.



Electric car Electric car

Shifting gears with aluminium

Strong, lightweight and highly recyclable, aluminium has many uses in modern life. It is increasingly being used in car manufacture, where it reduces vehicle weight, and improves fuel economy, safety and performance.

Aluminium is recognised as one of the most energy efficient and sustainable construction materials. It’s corrosion resistant, long lasting, and its light reflecting and insulating properties can contribute to energy efficiency. Its use can also help building projects quality for "green building" status under the globally recognised Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

As a global leader in the production of aluminium, we are committed to remaining at the forefront of aluminium smelting innovation. Our pioneering AP TechnologyTM reduces electricity use, lowers greenhouse gas emissions and enables producers to recycle waste streams internally.

This groundbreaking technology, plus our Aluminium business’s largely carbon-free energy portfolio, has made it possible for us to launch RenewAITM, the world’s first certified low CO2 aluminium. Around 80 per cent of our Aluminium group’s total power needs are supplied by carbon-free sources – 57 per cent of this energy comes from self-generated hydropower, compared with around 30 per cent for the industry.

Driving demand for lithium

We are always looking for future applications of the orebodies in our portfolio. As the world shifts from a carbon-based economy to combat climate change, we will be relying more on electric cars. Lithium is an essential component in manufacturing the high-performance, rechargeable batteries on which electric vehicles depend.

In 2004, we discovered a significant lithium-borate deposit in Serbia. This unique mineral has been named jadarite, after the area in which it was found. We are currently investing in technical, social and environmental studies, to work out how to develop this valuable resource responsibly.

Seeing results

Jadar is a world-class lithium deposit with the potential to supply a significant percentage of the global demand for lithium.

While the Jadar project is still in the pre-feasibility stage, our innovations in aluminium have had a measurable impact. RenewAl™ is certified to create no more than four tonnes of CO2 per tonne of aluminium produced – nearly one-third the industry average.

We believe that the ability to evolve, adapt, and improve our products is key to our ongoing success.