Decarbonizing the steel industry: Can it be done?

The perfect way to reduce the steel industry's carbon footprint.
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Created: 11/23/2022
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SSAB

Post the conclusion of the COP27 held in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions emerged as the top priority for all the nations. In adherence to Climate Change Mitigation, countries are expected to present their plans to mitigate emissions by using various technologies in a bid to keep up with the ultimate long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 to 2 degree Celsius by 2050.

It’s no secret that the steel industry happens to be a significant contributor to CO2 emissions, accounting for 7% of the total CO2 emissions in the world. However, it also happens to be one of the unassailable pillars of society – a crucial construction material that cannot be compromised in terms of production. However, the carbon footprint also needs to be reduced, which compels us to look at methods of fossil-free steel production.

Introducing SSAB – the pioneers of fossil-free steel production

Swedish steel makers SSAB have come up with a novel technology to show the world it’s possible to produce fossil-free steel. The usual production process emits CO2 as a by-product, but you’ll be surprised to hear that’s not the case with this new technology.

With SSAB’s fossil-free steel production technology, the by-product is…water!

Yes, you read that right. 

The HYBRIT Technology – revolutionizing the future of steel production

Decarbonizing the steel industry: Can it be done?
SSAB

Along with its partners – iron ore producer LKAB and energy company Vattenfall – SSAB has developed the HYBRIT technology that produces fossil-free steel with water vapor as a by-product instead of CO2 emissions. This technology replaces the process of coking coal traditionally used in iron-ore steelmaking with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.

The water by-product is usually reused in the process, but as a testimony to this paradigm shift in steel making, SSAB has bottled some of the water from their HYBRIT plant, calling it Pure Waste.

SSAB’s CTO, Martin Pei, even drank the water during COP27 to highlight the shift.

”A bottle of Pure Waste from the HYBRIT pilot plant is the best proof of what this technology means. We are going from emitting CO2 to emitting water that can easily be recycled. It is nothing short of an incredible possibility,” he said.

SSAB – their long-term goals

CTO Martin Pei also underlined the importance of a collective effort to combat climate change and called on industry colleagues to embrace this technology.

”The world is at a precipice of climate change. We have proven that there is a functioning technology to make fossil-free steel. But we cannot change the entire industry ourselves. Others need to act as well if we are to reach Paris Agreement goals. We want to inspire and support other steel companies to implement it. I hope that our colleagues in the industry will seize this chance to transform our sector from a climate villain to a climate hero,” he said.

The HYBRIT technology virtually eliminates the CO2 emissions from the steel manufacturing process. SSAB plans to become largely fossil-free around 2030 while also starting to produce fossil-free in industrial quantities during 2026. SSAB has filed for a patent of the HYBRIT technology in order to make the tech public knowledge. At present, you can access anything and everything about the technology via the company’s online knowledge-sharing platform.

Why should industries consider using fossil-free steel production?

SSAB’s prime focus is to encourage both steel buyers and producers to switch to fossil-free steel production. And there are undeniable benefits behind this move.

1. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

An already emphasized point in the whole article, albeit one that needs to be stressed upon repeatedly. For an industry-wide transformation, it’s essential for everyone – from producers to end users – to put in a collective effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ensure a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable climate. In the end, it’s all for the greater good.

2. Show your consumers you care about the environment

In recent years, there’s been a paradigm shift with consumers preferring products that are environmentally sustainable. Embracing fossil-free steel production is one way to showcase the efforts you’re taking to lower the carbon footprint on your behalf to safeguard the environment.

3. No compromise with quality  

You may be wondering if fossil-free steel production has any negative implications on the final product. However, that’s not the case in the slightest. The current range of SSAB’s products can be used across a plethora of industries without compromising the high-quality output that we usually achieve with the traditional steel manufacturing process. Actually, a recent study found that the HYBRIT technology even improves the quality of steel.

4. Invest for a better future

There is an increasing onus on industries and businesses to build systems that help comply with environmental legislation and regulations. While this trend is just starting out, embracing fossil-free fuel is a great way to achieve a head start in this race.

5. Sustainability is the future

Practicing sustainability will ensure our future generations don’t bear the brunt of present actions with regard to the environment. It’s essential to work for the cause of going fossil-free in order to maintain and nurture the environment.

Conclusion

The steel production industry has been vilified owing to its significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. With its HYBRIT technology, SSAB presents a novel and effective solution to combat this issue. Steel manufacturers will be able to produce steel with water as a byproduct instead of CO2.

The company’s other vital goals include eliminating its own carbon footprint and also making the HYBRIT technology access others through licensing.

You can visit the company’s website or the knowledge-sharing platform to get an in-depth overview of the HYBRIT technology and how it’ll work as a pioneer in transforming the steel production industry.

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