“Factor Five” outlines ways to cut steel’s energy intensity


SBB 20 April Factor Five, published by Earthscan in the UK, is a new book that aims to reduce the energy intensity of industrial production by 80%. It is a heavyweight publication, but its comments on steel are covered in around just 10 pages. Other chapters are devoted to reductions in related sectors, including building and transport, as well as possible legislative changes to accelerate moves to greater resource efficiency and a reduction in CO2 emissions.

The book’s focus is primarily on increasing the proportion of EAF steel; but as it accepts that insufficient scrap is likely to be available, it also advocates an increase in DRI production. Other proposals include direct strip casting, alternative fuels plus heat and power recovery. A clear comparison of energy use in the different steel production routes would have been helpful.

The book does not examine the possibility that the energy employed and CO2 generated from the production of certain steels would be less than those used/emitted in the lifetime of a particular application. A recent German study showed that cuts in emissions from using steels able to withstand high pressures and temperatures in power stations would significantly exceed the emissions resulting from production.

In order to back up its claim that energy use could be significantly reduced, Factor Five takes its statistics from many sources, some of which are now out of date. However, it forcefully argues that steel makers can and should reduce their energy use – from a baseline it claims stands at around 28GJ/t in 1995, to about 12GJ/t in the future.

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