EURACTIV.com reported that a new pilot facility under construction in northern Sweden will produce steel using hydrogen from renewable electricity. The only emissions will be water vapour, explains the CEO of Hybrit, the company behind the process, which seeks to revolutionise steelmaking.Mr M?rten G?rnerup is the CEO of Hybrit, a joint venture involving Swedish steelmaker SSAB, power utility Vattenfall and LKAB, Europe’s largest iron ore producer. He spoke to EURACTIV’s energy and environment editor, Frédéric Simon.
Q- Hybrit has recently announced plans to build a pilot steel plant that would produce steel without carbon dioxide emissions. How does that work?
A – The solution that we have opted for is to have a completely fossil-free value chain for steel production. The aim is to replace imported coke and coal coming from oversees and instead use hydrogen produced from fossil-free electricity. Hydrogen will then be used as the main reductant to reduce iron ore and produce metallic iron. And this process will only emit water vapour instead of carbon dioxide.
Q – What’s your timeline to achieve that?
A – We just concluded our pre-feasibility study. Based on the result, we decided to go ahead with the pilot phase and investigated a suitable location for the pilot facility. We decided to locate it in the Northern town of Lule? in Sweden, nearby iron ore fields. We’ve now completed a feasibility study on the pilot plant. This means we can start work and excavation already this summer. Then, we will continue with the design of the pilot facilities, with the aim of having the pilot plant up and running by 2020.
Q – And after 2020?
A – The plan is to use the pilot facility for a few years, up to 2024. The pilot plant is used more as an experimental tool – you can run specific experimental campaigns for up to two months. Then you evaluate, tweak a few settings, and run more experiments to find the optimum conditions for reduction. We hope that by 2024, we’ll have a pretty good grip on how this process should take place and start to plan for the next step, which is a demonstration plant. The main difference is that the demonstration plant will run as an industrial facility operating 24/7 for months.
Q – What kind of output capacity are you aiming for?
A – The pilot plant capacity is roughly one to two tonnes per hour of direct-reduced iron. And the demonstration plant will be more industrial-size. We believe it will be somewhere around half a million tonnes per year. And it will run as a normal factory.
Q – You said the hydrogen will come from green electricity. What are the implications in terms of costs, with potential fluctuations in prices of renewable electricity?
A – In the north of Sweden, we have an excess of electricity in general. And as we see it, we should totally replace the iron production in Sweden by using this new technology. We would reduce the CO2 emissions of Sweden by 10%. In terms of electricity needs, we would need roughly 15 TWh per year, which is in the same range as the amount of electricity that Sweden exports today. So the electricity is there. And especially in the North, there is an excess.
Q – The process of generating hydrogen with electricity is pretty energy-intensive though…
A – It is energy-intensive, yes. In the traditional carbon-based steel production, you use carbon as the energy and reductant. But if you want to eliminate CO2, you have to do something else, and we believe hydrogen is the best solution at the moment.
Now, of course, it comes at a cost. And it requires electricity to supply the energy needed for the chemical reaction.
Source : EURACTIV Com