A pilot project in Sweden has led to full-scale testing and development of a new steel producing technique that uses hydrogen instead of coal and coke - thus creating water vapor instead of carbon dioxide emissions.
This week, officials broke ground on the world's first fossil-free steel foundry at a Luleå, Sweden site owned by SSAB, a Swedish-Finnish company and one of the partners in the HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) project. HYBRIT is a joint venture company, owned by three companies, steel manufactuer SSAB, mining company LKAB, and energy producer Vattenfall, that aims to be first in the world to develop an industrial process for fossil-free, ore-based steel production. The project was initiated in spring 2016 and the goal is to have an industrial process in place by 2035.
Two pilot plants will be erected to develop the globally-unique and pioneering technology. These will be completed in 2020.
One of the plants will be used to study the method to manufacture steel using hydrogen gas instead of hard coal. This type of process can lead to major environmental benefits because the current carbon dioxide emissions are replaced by water vapor. Significant amounts of electricity are required to produce the hydrogen gas, and this is where Vattenfall's, a large Swedish power company, expertise is needed.
The aim with the second pilot plant is to develop a fossil-free technique that produces iron ore pellets to ensure the entire steel process is as climate smart as possible. LKAB, Sweden's state owned mining company, will develop carbon dioxide free direct reduction iron pellets.
"Pilot scale testing is necessary to verify the conclusions from small-scale laboratory tests on a larger scale, which emulate the subsequent industrial process. This opens the way to a better understanding of what happens in an interconnected industry system and how we set up an efficient production process. This is a critical step in achieving fossil-free iron manufacturing and its environmental benefits," says Mårten Görnerup, CEO for HYBRIT.
The HYBRIT project is financed by Vattenfall, SSAB and LKAB, along with a grant from the Swedish Energy Agency.