Cleaner Steel-making with Hydrogen

Steel making generates, according to climate-change watchdog Bellona Foundation (bellona.org), an average of 1.9 tons of CO2 for each ton of steel produced.

Steel making generates, according to climate-change watchdog Bellona Foundation (bellona.org), an average of 1.9 tons of CO2 for each ton of steel produced. Given that the organization estimates that over 1.43 billion tons of steel are manufactured every year, that is a lot of CO2.

Steel producer ArcelorMittal (arcelormittal.com), which produced 102-million tons of the material last year, is starting a new program to shrink its carbon footprint.

Included is a project that aims to, for the first time, use almost pure hydrogen on an industrial scale for a major step in the steel-making process, the direct reduction of iron ore, which usually requires the use of a reducing gas consisting of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and, often, carbon dioxide. The intent is to process that gas so that the hydrogen is separated out, then used for the direct reduction process for steelmaking.

ArcelorMittal is investing $73 million at its Hamburg facility to attempt to separate the hydrogen out of the current reducing gas.

The process of extracting the hydrogen, then using it alone as a reducing gas, has never been attempted at an industrial scale. A new furnace is to be built for the project and the company will work with The University of Freiberg to monitor the process. ArcelorMittal will initially attempt to produce a relatively modest “demonstration scale” of production using the method of 110,231 tons annually.