The steel industry should decarbonizing within 30 years

18 February 2020

Net greenhouse gas-free country - UK

The UK has legally promised to achieve a net greenhouse gas-free country by 2050, so unless the industry ends its dependence on carbon, the industry will face an uncertain future.

We want to develop ways to integrate technology and policies to eliminate the industry's dependence on fossil fuels.

The project will take a holistic approach, with a focus on integrating low-carbon technologies and bioenergy into steel manufacturing, with a view to reducing net CO2 emissions to zero in this vital industry.

The steel industry should decarbonizing within 30 years

Expertise on proven decarbonization methods

We will provide expertise on proven decarbonization methods and use our new facility for small-scale pilot experiments. From there, we can learn about scalable technologies and advise overseas governments and governments on how to make steel in a more sustainable way.

The reality is that the steel industry must decarbonize, but it must proceed with caution, or it may move the steel industry to a place where carbon emissions regulations are not strict.

The challenge we face is real change without compromising the meager profits on which the industry depends.

Steel is an important material, so we can't just stop making it. The project will bring together experts: scientists and engineers working on alternative production methods or waste recycling, and policy initiatives and incentive policy and business experts needed to analyze this change.

The steel industry should decarbonizing within 30 years

Integrate many different approaches

Our research will look at a range of emerging technologies and solutions. We will look at whether there is a way to integrate many different approaches. We will look at costs and timelines and develop very detailed, costly technologies and policies.The map will enable the industry to make this crucial transformation without having to be bothered by unrealistic costs.

Over the next few decades, decarbonizing the energy system in the steel industry was a major national challenge, and everything in major industrial processes was ready.

We will also help the government implement the Clean Growth Strategy, which was developed in 2017 to develop and grow the UK economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The steel industry should decarbonizing within 30 years

Blast furnaces

Steel production requires a lot of carbon. Blast furnaces are used to convert iron ore into liquid molten iron, which is energy intensive. If the energy does not come from renewable sources, it will have a huge carbon footprint.

Carbon is used as a core chemical in the production process. Coke from coal is used as a reducing agent in a blast furnace. The carbon dioxide produced is waste. The carbon in the liquid molten iron in the blast furnace is saturated, and excess carbon is removed in an alkaline oxygen furnace to produce crude steel.

The carbon entering the steelmaking process far exceeds the carbon required for the final product, and most of this excess carbon eventually enters the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide.

The steel industry should decarbonizing within 30 years

Carbon-intensive blast furnaces

In addition to using carbon-intensive blast furnaces, there are other options, such as the use of hydrogen to reduce iron ore in a process called direct reduced iron. However, if a sustainable source of hydrogen is used, it is only a "clean" process, and in future low-carbon economies, such as fuel cell electric vehicles, other users will compete for this hydrogen.

According to the European Iron and Steel Association, about 50% of the steel produced in Europe comes from scrap metal. The waste material is melted in the electric arc furnace, which requires a lot of energy. Only recycled steel recovered in furnaces using green electricity is considered "clean." There is competition for this type of electricity, such as charging electric cars.

Marinduque State College conducts energy research in a wide range of fields, including renewable energy, nuclear and conventional energy generation, energy storage, energy use, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies. Its interdisciplinary research team works with industry and government to focus on sustainable solutions.