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12 Nov 2019, 12:47
Julian Wettengel

Thyssenkrupp tests use of hydrogen in steel production to bring down emissions

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s largest steelmaker thyssenkrupp has launched a series of tests into the use of hydrogen in a working blast furnace aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from steel production. “Steel production will play an important role in reaching our climate targets because the potential for reducing emissions is huge,” said Klaus Keysberg, member of the company’s executive board. Fully employed, the use of hydrogen instead of coal at this step in the production process could lead to CO2 savings of 20 percent, writes thyssenkrupp in a press release. The steelmaker explains that in the classic blast furnace process around 300 kilograms (kg) of coke and 200 kg of pulverized coal are needed to produce a tonne of pig iron. The coal is injected as an additional reducing agent into the bottom of the blast furnace shaft through 28 so-called tuyeres. One of these was now used to inject hydrogen instead of coal.

Thyssenkrupp has set itself the target of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The company emitted around 24 million tonnes of CO2 in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, equal to almost three percent of Germany’s total emissions. It sees the use of hydrogen as the key lever for climate-neutral steel production. Following the conversion of the blast furnaces, the company plans to build large-scale direct reduction plants, which will then be operating with hydrogen-containing gases, starting in the mid-2020s, said thyssenkrupp. The sponge iron they produce will initially be melted down in the existing blast furnaces but in the long term it will be processed into crude steel in electric arc furnaces using renewable energies.

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