A pioneering inexperienced steelmaking plant in Sweden has efficiently demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing fossil fuel-free hydrogen fuel fairly than coking coal for manufacturing processes, marking a “essential milestone” on the highway to decarbonizing the metal trade, based on the businesses behind the excessive profile undertaking.
HYBRIT — a three way partnership firm between Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall, iron ore miner LKAB and steelmaker SSAB — has produced its first 100 metric tons of sponge iron utilizing hydrogen on the pilot plant, having started test operations at the Luleå site in September.
It’s the first time that hydrogen made with fossil fuel-free electrical energy has been used at pilot scale within the first discount of iron ore, which is a essential a part of the steelmaking course of, the businesses mentioned.
Metal is an important materials for constructing wind generators, electrical autos and different future clear applied sciences, however the steelmaking course of itself is very energy-intensive, and the lion’s share of manufacturing worldwide is reliant on coking coal, making it a significant decarbonization problem for the net-zero transition.
HYBRIT’s final purpose, nevertheless, is to eradicate CO2 emissions altogether from the steelmaking course of through the use of solely fossil-free feedstock and fossil fuel-free vitality in all elements of the worth chain, with a view to being first to market with inexperienced industrial-level metal as early as 2026.
It follows the news last week that carmaker Volvo has inked a cope with SSAB to buy metal produced from hydrogen-reduced iron on the Luleå HYBRIT demonstration plant, additionally backed by the Swedish Vitality Company.
This technological breakthrough is a essential step on the highway to fossil-free metal.
Jan Moström, president and CEO at LKAB — the longer term provider of sponge iron via the HYBRIT undertaking — hailed the primary manufacturing utilizing hydrogen on the pilot plant as “a significant breakthrough each for us and for the complete iron and metal trade.”
“Progress with HYBRIT allows us to take care of the tempo in our transition and already in 2026, we’ll start the swap to industrial-scale manufacturing with the primary demonstration plant in Gällivare, Sweden,” he mentioned. “As soon as LKAB has transformed its whole manufacturing to sponge iron, we’ll allow the transition of the metal trade and scale back international emissions by round 35 million metric tons a 12 months, which corresponds to two-thirds of Sweden’s whole emissions. That is the best motion we will take collectively for the nice of the local weather.”
Martin Lindqvist, president and CEO at SSAB, mentioned the potential of the system for producing zero carbon metal “can’t be underestimated.”
“This technological breakthrough is a essential step on the highway to fossil-free metal,” he mentioned. “It signifies that we will attain local weather targets in Sweden and Finland and contribute to decreasing emissions throughout Europe. On the identical time, it creates new jobs and export successes.”
Within the U.Okay. the Local weather Change Committee has advisable setting a goal for steelmaking to achieve near-zero emissions by 2035, however controversial plans to construct a brand new coal mine in Cumbria to provide the metal trade are presently being weighed up as a part of a public inquiry.
In the meantime, as early as this 12 months SSAB mentioned it plans to ship small portions of metal made utilizing hydrogen to prospects, with a view to ramping up manufacturing to large-scale fossil fuel-free metal by 2026. “Excessive-strength fossil-free metal may also enable us to assist our prospects to strengthen their competitiveness,” added Lindqvist.
The hydrogen used on the plant is generated via electrolysis powered by clear vitality, which splits water into its part elements of hydrogen and oxygen. In Could, HYBRIT started work on constructing a pilot-scale hydrogen storage facility adjoining to the metal plant in Luleå.
Vattenfall President and CEO Anna Borg mentioned the breakthrough “reveals in a really possible way how electrification contributes to enabling a fossil-free life inside a era.”
“Sweden’s and Vattenfall’s fossil-free electrical energy is a primary requirement for the low carbon footprint of hydrogen-reduced sponge iron,” she mentioned.