New ‘green’ ironmaking passes first test, funding approved


Current steelmaking technologies only have limited scope for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For the industry to achieve significant cuts in emissions, of 50% or more, breakthrough technologies will be needed. Although these are still several years away from commercial operation, a number of research projects are achieving results in their test phases. In particular part private, part state-funded projects in Japan, Korea and the EU are developing new technologies.

SBB 1 July Tata Steel’s 60,000 t/y HIsarna ironmaking pilot plant in IJmuiden has successfully completed its first test campaign, the company tells Steel Business Briefing. It is now preparing for a second round of tests in October or November.

The project has also been approved for further funding from the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS), which distributes around €55m ($80m) per year to industrial research projects in the sector. The project has been selected for funding by the RFCS and representatives of European member states, and received final confirmation from the European Commission, SBB understands from a source close to the RFCS.

The first round of tests was a success and only minor alterations are needed before the second round, Tata says. The new tests aim to achieve stable, longer operating periods.

Because the project is part of the Ultra-low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme, further tests can only be conducted once representatives of other ULCOS members and officials are available to be present, in accordance with ULCOS protocol, SBB understands.

ULCOS is a consortium of steelmakers and others that aims to develop new technologies which can cut emissions from steelmaking by at least 50%.

The technology is jointly owned by Tata steel and Rio Tinto and can produce hot metal directly from iron ore fines and low-volatile coal, eliminating the need for coking and sintering. This could result in a cut of 20% in emissions than that produced by a standard blast furnace; emissions could be reduced a further 60% by using carbon capture and storage.

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