Open thread: steel without coal

2020-07-20

in Science, The environment

The most pressing challenge for bringing climate change under control is replacing the world’s energy sources for electricity production, building heating and cooling, and transport. At the same time, humanity needs to learn how to do everything necessary to maintain a technological civilization without fossil fuels. That includes agriculture, as well as the production of crucial raw materials including steel.

This may be one area where hydrogen is a real solution:

[O]ne of the biggest industrial sources of carbon dioxide is not directly energy-related at all.

This is the reduction of iron ore (usually an oxide of iron) to the metal itself by reacting the ore with carbon monoxide made from coke. That produces iron and carbon dioxide. React the ore with hydrogen instead, and the waste product is water. Several firms—including ArcelorMittal, a multinational steelmaker, and a conglomerate of SSAB, a Finnish-Swedish steelmaker, LKAB, a Swedish iron-ore producer, and Vattenfall, an energy company, also Swedish—are examining this possibility.

Climate-safe sources of raw materials are necessary both practically and politically, since people point to the use of fossil fuels in their production as reasons why they cannot be abandoned.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. August 5, 2020 at 5:35 am

Apple’s low-carbon aluminum is a climate game changer

https://grist.org/energy/apples-low-carbon-aluminum-is-an-climate-game-changer/

. February 16, 2021 at 12:56 am

Why manufacturing is the biggest hurdle in climate change fight

Bill Gates says governments and investors need to find ways to reduce emissions from steel- and cement-making.

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/2/16/why-manufacturing-is-the-biggest-hurdle-in-climate-change-fight

. May 4, 2021 at 3:37 pm

Low-carbon production of iron and steel: Technology options, economic assessment, and policy

This paper explores existing approaches and potential decarbonization paths of the global iron and steel industry: fuel switching to low-C hydrogen, solid biomass, zero-carbon electricity substitution, and retrofit with carbon capture and storage (CCS). Achieving net-zero primary production with current available technologies faces many challenges from plant design fundamentals (BF or DRI), resource availability, carbon footprint uncertainty, and cost. Long-term opportunities to reach net-zero require asset replacement, combining approaches, or both. Short-term opportunities lie in CCS retrofit and fuel substitution, particularly blue hydrogen, carbon-neutral biomass, and zero-carbon electricity but only provide low or partial GHG reductions. For individual plants, the optimal local solution depends on geography, natural resources, infrastructure, and economies. Large-scale deployment is limited by resource availability, infrastructure, and policy incentives.

. May 4, 2021 at 3:45 pm

How the global steel industry is cutting out coal | The Narwhal

https://thenarwhal.ca/steel-coal-mining-hydrogen/

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