New steelmaking technologies currently under development will take many years before they are commercially available. However, in the long term new they will be essential for a low carbon society.
SBB 13 April Tata Steel has commissioned the 60,000 t/y HIsarna iron reduction pilot plant at its IJmuiden steelworks in the Netherlands, Steel Business Briefing learns during a visit to the site. The new technology could reduce both carbon dioxide emissions and steelmaking costs.
The plant, developed under the European Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme, will produce hot metal directly from iron ore fines and ground low-volatile coal, eliminating the need for coking and sintering. This would result in a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions. It also means that thermal coal can be used instead of expensive coking coal and the iron ore requires little processing, reducing costs for the steelmaker.
The plant could also use charcoal instead of coal. The use of charcoal would not be limited, as it is in the blast furnace, because it does not need to support a heavy slag layer, SBB is told.
Tata now hopes to complete the first round of tests in the coming months. There will be many technical challenges, officials suggest. Part of HIsarna uses Rio Tinto’s HIsmelt iron ore reduction technology. However, Rio’s 800,000 t/y HIsmelt plant in Australia never reached full capacity and also had technical problems with refractories, SBB notes. It is now closed.
Tata hopes to run a demonstration-scale plant in 2014-2018, although its location has not yet been chosen. At this stage an 80% reduction in emissions would then be achievable using carbon capture and storage, ULCOS says.