Guest contribution by Eric Worrall
h / t Gerard Flood – SSAB, a Swedish steel foundry, claims that they supplied their first batch of iron ore steel to a paying customer using green hydrogen instead of metallurgical coal.
The world’s first fossil-free steel for delivery
AUGUST 18, 2021 15:00 CEST
SSAB has now produced the world’s first fossil-free steel and delivered it to a customer. The trial delivery is an important step on the way to a completely fossil-free value chain for iron and steel production and a milestone in the HYBRIT partnership between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.
In July, SSAB Oxelösund rolled the first steel produced with HYBRIT technology, ie reduced with 100% fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke, with good results. The steel is now being delivered to the first customer, the Volvo Group.
“The world’s first fossil-free steel is not only a breakthrough for SSAB, it is also proof that it is possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry. We hope this will inspire others to accelerate the green transition as well, ”said Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB.
“Industry, and the steel industry in particular, cause large emissions, but they are also an important part of the solution. To drive the transition and become the world’s first fossil-free welfare state, collaboration between business, universities and the public sector is vital. The work of SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall in the context of HYBRIT is driving the development of the entire industry and is an international model, ”says the Swedish Minister of Trade and Industry Ibrahim Baylan.
“It is a decisive milestone and an important step towards a completely fossil-free value chain from the mine to the finished steel. We have now shown together that it is possible and the journey continues. With the future industrialization of this technology and the transition to the production of sponge iron on an industrial scale, we are making the transition possible for the steel industry. That is the greatest thing that we can do together for the climate ”, says Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB. free steel and deliver to the customer. This shows how partnerships and collaboration can help reduce emissions and make industries more competitive. Electrification helps enable fossil-free life within a generation, ”says Anna Borg, President and CEO of Vattenfall.
SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall founded HYBRIT, Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology, in 2016 with the aim of developing a technology for fossil-free iron and steel production. In June 2021, the three companies were able to present the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron from the HYBRIT pilot plant in Luleå. This first sponge iron has since been used to make the first steel made using this groundbreaking technology.
The aim is to bring fossil-free steel to the market and to demonstrate the technology on an industrial scale as early as 2026. With HYBRIT technology, SSAB has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by about ten percent and Finland’s by about seven percent.
“We will switch to the electric arc furnace in Oxelösund as early as 2025. This will be the first production site within SSAB to make the transition, and that means that we will already be saving large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions by then. This is a great responsibility that we are proud to assume and that offers the region great opportunities, ”says Johnny Sjöström, Head of SSAB’s Special Steels Division.
Mia Widell, PR officer, SSAB, +46 76-527 25 01
Anders Lindberg, Group Media Relations Manager, LKAB, +46 (0) 72-717 83 55
Magnus Cruiser, press officer, Vattenfall, +46 76 769 56 07
A piece of the future – the first object made from one piece of the world’s first fossil-free steel.
“The candlestick with its gently pleated rays emanating from the candle symbolizes the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a symbol of hope. It really is … a piece of the future. “
Lena Bergström, designer
As a proof of concept, SSAB’s claim appears to be a significant advance, although the press release specifically does not include a discussion of the cost of using their HYBRIT reduction process for green hydrogen compared to regular smelting with metallurgical coal. Of course, higher costs are not an obstacle for some end users. For example, luxury car manufacturers might be willing to pay the higher cost so they can claim that their product is greener.
I would like to know how SSAB’s HYBRIT process deals with hydrogen embrittlement. While hydrogen can be used in place of metallurgical carbon to chemically remove the oxygen from iron ore (iron oxide), steel, which contains even traces of hydrogen, tends to have very poor metallurgical properties. Note I’m not claiming that SSAB’s green steel is metallurgically inferior – when their green steel is ready for production, they implicitly claim that they have found a solution to the hydrogen contamination problem.