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.

{ 9 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/

. August 19, 2021 at 4:24 am

‘Green steel’: Swedish company ships first batch made without using coal | Climate change | The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/19/green-steel-swedish-company-ships-first-batch-made-without-using-coal

. August 20, 2021 at 6:38 pm

And yet Japan does have a shot at hydrogen-superpowerdom. Behind the scenes its firms are pursuing unglamorous applications in heavy industry and other hard-to-decarbonise sectors. The government is egging them on.

In June, for example, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (meti) laid out a plan to slash carbon emissions from steelmaking by shifting to “direct-reduction iron” (dri). This process both uses considerably less energy and can replace some climate-unfriendly ingredients of the requisite industrial chemistry (such as carbon monoxide). meti is lavishing billions of dollars on the industry to commercialise the use of hydrogen in blast furnaces by 2030. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a conglomerate, is building a zero-carbon steel mill in Austria. Nippon Steel wants its dri technology to be in commercial use by 2030.

https://www.economist.com/business/2021/07/24/japan-inc-wants-to-become-a-hydrogen-superpower

. August 31, 2021 at 3:54 am

Mitsubishi Heavy To Build Biggest Zero-Carbon Steel Plant – Slashdot

https://news.slashdot.org/story/20/12/31/1542255/mitsubishi-heavy-to-build-biggest-zero-carbon-steel-plant

. October 5, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Kerry Lines Up Pledges to Scrub Emissions From Carbon-Heavy Industries

The First Movers Coalition wants to trigger demand for products like sustainable jet fuel and green steel to help make the clean technologies more affordable

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-05/kerry-lines-up-pledges-to-scrub-emissions-from-carbon-heavy-industries

. October 22, 2021 at 1:30 pm

Phasing out the blast furnace to meet global climate targets

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2542435121004359

• First estimation of committed emissions based on actual industry equipment data

• The median historic blast furnace campaign length is 17 years

• CO2 emissions of 21 Gt to be expected for immediate blast furnace phase-out case

• 10 years of inaction and steel consumes 12% of the remaining 1.5°C carbon budget

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