Salzgitter Pioneering the Green Alchemy: Steel's Transformation

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Synopsis:

Salzgitter AG is aggressively working on shifting its steel production to a more sustainable model. Through collaborations with research institutes, the company aims to cut down CO₂ emissions by 95%. Plans are in place to replace conventional methods with hydrogen-based direct reduction process by 2033, with significant progress expected by 2026.

Article:

Green steel production isn't just a buzzword anymore; it's a necessity. Salzgitter AG, in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institutes, is making significant strides towards sustainable steel production. For six years, they have focused on exploring how steel production can be shifted from the traditional blast furnace route, responsible for 28% of Germany's industrial CO₂ emissions, to a direct reduction process using green hydrogen.

Under the projects "MACOR" and "BeWiSe," funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Salzgitter AG has achieved significant success. These initiatives confirm that this transition can reduce CO₂ emissions by a staggering 95%. The company also aims to understand the technical conditions for this change and gauge public acceptance.

The future is planned, and the timeline is set. By 2033, Salzgitter AG aims to fully convert its traditional steel production to hydrogen-based direct reduction. The wheels of progress are already in motion; a third of the production capacity will have been converted to this more sustainable process by 2026.

In addition, the research project "BeWiSer," initiated in July 2023, is going a step further to examine resource and energy efficiency across the entire steel production process. The goal is not just to produce green steel but to do so in a way that is fundamentally sustainable and resource-efficient. For example, one area under investigation is how biogenic materials can be used as substitutes for coal and natural gas.

Water management is another focal point. Given that large quantities of water are needed for the production of green steel, particularly for electrolysis, there are plans to recycle and reuse the water formed during iron ore reduction with hydrogen. This sustainability loop is central to achieving long-term goals.

Collaborations between research institutes and Salzgitter AG continue to bring new insights and breakthroughs. Dr. Matthias Jahn, who heads the Energy and Process Engineering department at Fraunhofer IKTS, emphasizes the importance of their joint research work in reducing industrial CO₂ emissions. Dr. Alexander Redenius, a key figure at Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung, points out that the transition is a major challenge that requires foundational research and close cooperation with research institutes.

Conclusion:

Salzgitter AG is pushing boundaries to achieve a sustainable steel production process. With commitments to significantly reduce CO₂ emissions and a roadmap in place, the company is set to be a frontrunner in the industry. This ambitious venture not only aligns with Germany's climate goals but also sets an example for steel producers worldwide.

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