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World First for Steel: ArcelorMittal Investigates Industrial Use of Pure Hydrogen

By March 29, 2019

March 29, 2019

Sustainable steel production has many facets. In order to permanently reduce CO2 emissions, ArcelorMittal has developed a strategy for low-carbon technologies, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and use alternative fuels as well as direct carbon avoidance (CDA).

This year, the Group wants to launch a new project in the ArcelorMittal plant in Hamburg to use hydrogen on an industrial scale for the direct reduction of iron ore in the steel production process for the first time. A pilot plant will be built in the coming years.

Already today, the Hamburg plant has one of the most efficient production processes of the ArcelorMittal Group due to the use of natural gas in a direct reduction plant (DRI). The aim of the new hydrogen-based process is to be able to produce steel with the lowest CO2 emissions. The project costs amount to around 65 million euros. In addition, a cooperation agreement with the University of Freiberg is planned in order to test the procedure in the coming years at the Hamburg factory premises. The hydrogen-based reduction of iron ore will initially take place on a demonstration scale with an annual production of 100,000 tonnes.

“Our Hamburg plant offers optimum conditions for this innovative project: an electric arc furnace with DRI system and iron ore pellets warehouses as well as decades of know-how in this area, and the use of hydrogen as a reducing agent in a new shaft furnace,” comments Frank Schulz, CEO of ArcelorMittal Germany.

In the process, the separation of H2 with a purity of more than 95 percent from the blast furnace gas of the existing plant should be achieved by so-called pressure swing adsorption. The process is first tested with gray hydrogen (generated at gas separation) to allow for economical operation. In the future, the plant should also be able to run on green hydrogen (generated from renewable sources) if it is available in sufficient quantities.

With the Hamburg hydrogen project, ArcelorMittal is developing pioneering technologies for direct CO2 avoidance (CDA) as one of the possible ways of producing low-emission steel. The Group is already investing more than 250 million euros in various technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, for example in Ghent, where carbon dioxide emissions are used to produce alternative fuels or used in chemical products. Likewise, methods are tested in which biochar from waste wood is used instead of coking coal as a reducing agent in the blast furnace.

ArcelorMittal is committed to climate protection. With the multi-technology approach, the Group wants to make an active contribution to achieving the ambitious climate and energy policy goals of the Guardian Agreement and identify which technologies are technically and economically feasible to reduce, capture or avoid CO2 emissions.

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