HYBRIT – Towards fossil-free steel

Vattenfall has joined forces with mining company LKAB and steel manufacturer SSAB to, in principle, remove the impact the Swedish steel industry has on the climate...

Source: Vattenfall
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Vattenfall has joined forces with mining company LKAB and steel manufacturer SSAB to, in principle, remove the impact the Swedish steel industry has on the climate. Together the companies have set up the joint venture company HYBRIT 2017. The objective is to have a completely fossil-free process for steel manufacture by 2035. A successful HYBRIT project will mean that Sweden’s CO2 emissions can be reduced by 10% and Finland’s by 7%.

 

In 2016, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall joined forces to create HYBRIT – a joint venture project that endeavors to revolutionize steel-making. HYBRIT aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with hydrogen. The result will be unique: the world’s first fossil-free steel-making technology, with virtually no carbon footprint.

The idea is that today's blast furnace process will be replaced by a process called direct reduction. Put simply, it entails coke, which is currently used to reduce the iron ore to iron, being replaced with hydrogen gas, which is produced by electricity from fossil-free sources of energy. The by-product is then ordinary water, which can be recovered for production of new hydrogen gas.

In spring 2018 a pilot plant for fossil-free steel production was planned and designed and construction started in June in Luleå, in northern Sweden. HYBRIT will make a unique contribution to a fossil-free society by enabling a steel production process that emits water instead of carbon dioxide. This can be a reality when the use of coal and coke in steel production is replaced by hydrogen produced using fossil free energy sources.

 

HYBRIT is divided into three phases.

  • A pilot study where all conditions are surveyed, 2016–2017.
  • Trials in a pilot study, 2018–2024.
  • Trials in demonstration plant, 2025–2035.

Since its inception, HYBRIT has received support in several stages from the Swedish Energy Agency, including for a four-year research project.

Implementation of the project requires significant national contributions from the government, research institutes and universities.

 

Vattenfall's role

For many years the focus has been on sustainable electricity generation. In Sweden we already have an electricity system with very low climate impact. We therefore want to focus on sustainable electricity consumption and use of climate-smart electricity as a replacement for fossil fuels in other parts of society, such as transportation and heavy industrial processes.