The last stage after the optimization and the transition stage is seen to be the green end stage where steel can be produced at or near zero emissions. Currently, the steel industry is still in the optimization stage, but steps have already been taken towards the next phase. However, much needs to change for it to be possible to achieve the green end stage. This would require, for example, the development and later introduction of new technologies as well as renewable electricity that is affordable and thus would encourage steelmakers to retire their existing blast furnaces (Ellis & Bao 2020).
In order for the steel industry to be able to meet its global energy and environmental targets, emissions must be reduced at least 50% by 2050. After reaching this step, efforts must be made to continuously reduce emissions towards zero emissions.
Figure 1. Percentage of global steelmaking processes.
Figure 1 shows the percentage of global steelmaking processes. The number of EAFs is seen to increase significantly in the future. In addition, of the technologies currently under development, hydrogen based DRI/EAF steelmaking is seen as the only possible route to carbon-free steelmaking. The use of hydrogen in the DRI process is not a new concept, as hydrogen makes up 60% of the reducing agent in current natural gas based DRI processes. (Ellis & Bao 2020) In the Middle East, for example, the DRI/EAF process route is widely used because natural gas is cheap and readily available (IEA 2020). Green Hydrogen can be used as an alternative reducing agent to produce DRI, which can be processed into steel using an EAF. The DRI steel mills that are being built today are designed to use hydrogen once it is available at a competitive price. In the future, the challenge will be to supply large quantities of renewable or green hydrogen to the steel industry, including distribution and storage infrastructure. (Ellis & Bao 2020) However, the use of green hydrogen together with renewable electricity from wind, solar or water in a DRI/EAF setup enables near carbon-free steelmaking.
This was the last part of the article series “Pathways to Decarbonization of Steel industry”. Major emission reductions are not possible without technological innovations that focus on reaching near-zero emissions in steelmaking. Luxmet is actively involved in various research and development projects (national and EU level), for example with the University of Oulu and other major research operators in Europe. We are involved in helping steel mills around the world achieve global energy and environmental goals and move towards carbon-free steel production.
Click here to read the first part of the article series.
Ellis, B. & Bao, W., 2021. Pathways to decarbonization episode two: steelmaking technology [online]. Available at: https://www.bhp.com/media-and-insights/prospects/2020/11/pathways-to-decarbonisation-episode-two-steelmaking-technology/ [Accessed 3 February 2021]
IEA 2020. Iron and Steel Technology Roadmap. France: Paris. Available at: https://www.iea.org/reports/iron-and-steel-technology-roadmap [Accessed 3 February 2021]