Salzgitter AG, a German steel company, is taking a bold step toward sustainability by aiming to produce steel with low CO₂ emissions. They are partnering with Fraunhofer Institutes on a project that uses green hydrogen in steel production, aiming to reduce CO₂ emissions by 95%. The company plans to complete this transition by 2033.
Steel production is one of the major contributors to industrial CO₂ emissions, particularly in Germany where it accounts for about 28% of such emissions. Recognizing the need for change, Salzgitter AG has been working for six years to transition its steel production to a more sustainable method. They aim to convert conventional blast furnace steel production to direct reduction processes using hydrogen.
To help optimize their plans, Salzgitter AG has launched a research project named "BeWiSer" in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institutes. This project focuses on the entire process chain and examines how it can be made more resource and energy-efficient. Areas like the use of biogenic materials as a substitute for coal and natural gas are under investigation.
In addition to reducing CO₂ emissions, the project also looks into the efficient use of water, a critical resource in green steel production. Plans are in place to process the water produced during the iron ore reduction for reuse, thus making the process more sustainable.
Salzgitter AG is not alone in this venture. A new member, TS ELINO, has joined the project consortium to contribute to the in-process recycling of iron-bearing dusts. This addition will further enhance the resource efficiency of green steel production.
The company has ambitious timelines, planning to convert one-third of their steel production to low-CO₂ methods by 2026 and complete the transition by 2033. Construction work for this massive changeover has already begun, indicating the company's commitment to sustainability.
Transitioning to a new method while keeping the steel mill operational is a significant challenge. According to Dr. Alexander Redenius, head of Resource Efficiency and Technology Development at Salzgitter, the close cooperation with research institutes lays the groundwork for the successful implementation of this transformation.
Salzgitter AG’s initiative to transition to low-CO₂ steel production represents a significant step towards a more sustainable future. By aiming to reduce CO₂ emissions by up to 95% and focusing on resource efficiency, the company sets a benchmark that could inspire the whole industry to follow suit.