‘Green’ steel technologies costly, time-consuming: execs

Any significant reduction in emissions from te steel industry will requirethe widespread use of greener technologies. However, breakthrough technologies are still years from commercial development and very expensive.

SBB 11 April Technologies aimed at reducing steel’s carbon emissions require significant time and capital to develop, mill executives and experts on the topic contend.

Speaking during Steel Business Briefing’s Green Steel Strategies conference in Brussels on 5-6 April, Jean-Pierre Birat, head of the Ultra-low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) program with ArcelorMittal’s global research and development unit, said the industry has worked to reduce emissions for more than 20 years – well before the EU, US and others undertook similar initiatives.

The EU is requiring steelmakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21% from 2005 to 2020. “We are fighting, running against time because we are told we must have a solution by 2020, which is a tremendous constraint,” Birat said.

Mills have been working on ULCOS technologies, such as the HIsarna project at Tata Steel Europe’s IJmuiden plant in the Netherlands. The €60m (US$86.6m) pilot project features an internal “melting cyclone” that involves direct insertion of coal, ore and oxygen to help reduce CO2 emissions by 20%. If carbon sequestration also is employed, CO2 can be reduced by 80%.

However, even with a commissioning this month, the HIsarna plant’s industrial scale demonstration phase would run from 2014-2018. “We cannot expect any of this technology to be capturing CO2 in a way that makes sense before 2020,” Birat said.

And, as CO2 efforts drive up costs in developed regions, end users could simply buy elsewhere. “They’re going to get it from markets where they can make it cheaper,” Nucor’s GM of environmental affairs Steve Rowlan said.


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