Forging a greener future: The urgency of sustainable steel production

A groundbreaking initiative to produce steel while reducing carbon emissions.
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Created: 6/28/2023
SSAB Zero™ - an essential step towards a greener future

Source: SSAB  

The quest for a sustainable future is gathering steam as days pass by. With a plethora of factors contributing to the carbon footprint throughout the globe, the steel industry plays a significant role. Apparently, the steel industry accounts for no less than 7% of the global carbon footprint, which is why a transformative shift towards sustainable steel manufacturing becomes all the more necessary in the larger goal of achieving the net zero goal by 2050. And, the global steel company SSAB has taken up the mantle to bring positive changes that’ll impact the future of climate positively in the years to come. 

Amidst growing climate change concerns, SSAB’s groundbreaking initiative, SSAB Zero™, is making crucial strides to achieve a greener steel industry. With this initiative, SSAB has unearthed an innovative formula for manufacturing steel using clean energy sources and eliminating carbon emissions. 

SSAB Zero™ - Steel for the future

Forging a greener future: The urgency of sustainable steel production
Steel for the future

SSAB Zero is a massive catalyst that can speed up the green transformation of the steel industry. It boasts all the qualities of traditional steel and is produced without carbon emissions using clean energy. 

SSAB uses recycled steel as a raw material along with biogas and fossil-free electricity in an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) to produce SSAB Zero steel. To begin with, scrap metal is inserted into the Electric Arc Furnace, together with slag formers. Finally, molten crude steel is poured out through a tapping spout. 

This process reduces the impact of carbon emissions and also serves as a major step in SSAB’s mission to largely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions in operations by 2030.  

Vice President of Sustainable Business, Thomas Hörnfeldt, underlined the importance of SSAB Zero in the years to come.

“By utilizing steel scrap and fossil-free energy, we can make a significant contribution towards decarbonizing the steel industry. Along with our continued efforts to develop the world’s first fossil-free steel, SSAB Zero will be an important part of our future comprehensive zero fossil carbon-emission steel offering,” he said

The use of this unique method will also prove to be a game-changer for the US steel industry, where scrap-based production in arc furnaces accounts for 70 percent of steel production

The ever-increasing demand for green steel

Forging a greener future: The urgency of sustainable steel production
Fossil fuels are no longer needed

Since reducing carbon emissions remains a vital target for companies around the globe, the global green steel market is estimated to reach USD 386.1 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 131.8%. And SSAB’s fossil-free steel production is touted to play a major role in this significant transformation. The company’s collaboration partnership with the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading yellow goods and truck producers, is a testament to the positive impact of their products. 

Volvo Group's collaboration with SSAB, which goes back to 2021, has been another important step in terms of how the former has taken great strides in playing its role to reduce the global carbon footprint. In 2022, Volvo Group became the first in the world to deliver construction machines built using fossil-free steel to customers. The move comes just eight months after the company unveiled the world’s first vehicle concept using fossil-free steel, as part of the testing of the implementation in an ordinary production setup. In October 2022, Volvo Group became the first in the world with series production using fossil-free steel in its electric trucks. 

Are SSAB Fossil-free™ steel and SSAB Zero™ different?

Volvo Group is already using fossil-free steel and is planning to integrate SSAB Zero as well, and that might have you wondering if both products are different or one and the same. 

While both SSAB Fossil-free steel and SSAB Zero are produced using biogas and fossil-free electricity in their manufacturing processes, the key difference lies in the use of raw materials. Fossil-free steel uses iron ore without fossil fuels as the raw material, while SSAB Zero uses recycled steel as its counterpart. 

Since scrap steel isn’t available enough to satisfy global demand, SSAB’s fossil-free steel can be used in such places to combat carbon emissions. In a nutshell, both products are made to complement each other according to the availability of raw materials. The end goal for both products remains the same - helping companies achieve zero-fossil carbon emissions throughout the globe. 

Forging a greener future: The urgency of sustainable steel production
A sustainable scrap-based steel

For industries reliant on steel, it’s essential to search for a greener alternative to fight the hazards of climate change. However, there’s no set definition as to what qualifies for ‘green steel’, which can lead to contentious debates and minimal impact on the environment.

In a bid to resolve all the doubts and queries surrounding green steel, SSAB maintains complete transparency about any possible carbon emissions, with both types of steel being verified by a third party. 

“We understand that for many of our customers, steel represents a large part of their own carbon footprint, so they need complete transparency,” said Hörnfeldt. “We always ensure our steels are delivered with accurate and reliable values, which our customers can use with confidence in their own footprint calculations.”

In conclusion

Sustainable steel production holds paramount importance in the collective pursuit of mankind to combat climate change. Conventional steel production has no shortage of environmental challenges, and that necessitates the need for a transformative shift towards greener steel production. 

By embracing initiatives like SSAB Zero and integrating renewable energy resources in manufacturing, companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and make valuable contributions to the global fight against climate change. It’s only by striving for a greener future will we as a race be able to build a more resilient world for future generations in the years to come. 

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