Steel is a fantastic metal because of its high strength and durability, but it has a problem: its production generates huge carbon dioxide emissions. Steel production is estimated to be responsible for around 7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are those who believe they have found a way to obtain it without that disadvantage.
Boden. This is the name of the small Swedish town that is 900 km north of Stockholm. Very close to there, a group of giant excavators work with one goal: to build a new steel production plant. A very special one.
Hydrogen. Unlike most plants of this type, the Boden plant will use hydrogen technology, something that according to the company responsible for the project —H2 Green Steel— will reduce traditional emissions by 95%. To produce the hydrogen that is used in these processes, large-scale electrolysis is used that allows —through electricity from non-fossil sources— to decompose water into oxygen and hydrogen.
HDI Tower. The most important element of this steel production plant is the so-called DRI (Direct-Reduced Iron) tower. There the iron ore is exposed to hydrogen, which reacts with the oxygen in the ore to form water vapor as a residue. This allows avoid the use of coal and propose this singular “ecological metallurgy”.
not the first. This company has several rivals with similar projects, and among them the Swedish company also stands out SSABwhich months ago already began to produce ‘green steel’ with its process, called HYBRIT, and supply it to Volvo. With it, some industrial trucks have begun to be manufactured.
A good (and small) start. In H2 Green steel they hope to produce five million tons of green steel per year in 2030. However, annual world production is around 2,000 million tons, which of course puts into perspective that this Swedish project is modest. And yet…
The greats are encouraged. Steel giants like Thyssenkrupp recently announced that by 2045 they want to achieve a carbon-neutral production process in all their plants. The European Union is also introducing changes so that European companies try to make the transition to these green steel processes.
And in Spain? Companies like Iberdrola advocate due to this transition, and while several green steel production plant projects appear in our country. ArcelorMittal’s in Gijón begin to to do so by 2025, while Hydnum Steel – a consortium of several companies – will invest 1,000 million euros in a plant in Puertollano. Of course: this transition, say the experts, also will bring disadvantages: more automation and job cuts, plus a reduction in steel production capacity.