Sweden Vattenfall and Swedish SSAB and LKAB are to build a globally-unique pilot plant for steel made with climate smart hydrogen.

A pre-feasibility made by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall is giving the green light for the Swedish fossil-free steel initiative, HYBRIT. For the first time in the history of steel making there is now an opportunity for a technology shift. The plan is to break the ground for a pilot plant already before the summer in Luleå in northern Sweden.

“It is with great pleasure that we can announce today that we are giving the green light to the initiative to proceed with the planning and designing of a pilot plant. This spring we will also start investigating the possibilities of broadening the project to include Finland,” said Mårten Görnerup, CEO of HYBRIT.

Large emissions reduction
A first part is expected to cost about 2 million euro, partly financed by the Swedish Energy Agency. The initiative could reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent and those in Finland by 7 percent . The reduction in Sweden has been described as being crucial if Sweden is to be able to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“It’s very positive that we can take the next step with this unique pilot plant, for both the project and in work on the climate challenge. The electrification of industry and climate-smart hydrogen will be a crucial factor in lower emissions and a fossil-free society,” said Magnus Hall, President and CEO of Vattenfall.

Economically viable
The aim is to have a totally fossil-free process for steel production by 2035. The prefeasibility study shows that that fossil-free steel will in future be able to compete in the market with traditional steel as electricity from fossil-free sources are expected to decrease while costs for carbon dioxide emissions will increase.

Steel is a significant element of modern society, and global demand for steel is expected to increase. If a new process cannot be found for ore-based steel production, carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry will increase by up to 25 percent by 2050.

“HYBRIT is a significant part of SSAB’s goal to be fossil-free by 2045, and the report from the pre-feasibility study shows that not only is it possible to carry out this initiative, but it can also create exciting future opportunities for us as a company. We want to be part of the solution to climate change,” said Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of steel manufacturer SSAB.

Process emits water, not carbon dioxide
At present coal and coke are used to reduce iron ore into iron. The idea behind HYBRIT is to use hydrogen produced with electricity from fossil-free sources. The emissions  would then be water instead of carbon dioxide.

 “Fossil-free steel production starts in the mine, we’re currently working intensively on how the next generation of pellet plants will be designed, as well as how a future electrified and more highly automated mine should be designed. HYBRIT is an important driving force for LKAB,” said Jan Moström, President and CEO of iron mining company LKAB.

National contributions required
To be able to carry out this project, significant national contributions are required from the state, research institutions and universities. There has to be good access to fossil-free electricity, improved infrastructure and rapid expansion of high voltage networks, research initiatives, faster permit processes and the government’s active support for pilot and demonstration facilities and long term support at EU level.

More information on HYBRIT

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