SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall are taking another important step in their fossil-free steelmaking journey with preparations now underway for the construction of a demonstration plant on an industrial scale for its HYBRIT initiative.
The companies have also started consultations for deciding on placement of this demo plant in Norrbotten, Sweden.
The objective of the joint venture HYBRIT project is to develop the world’s first fossil-free, ore-based steelmaking process. The by-product of using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen in steelmaking, instead of coke and coal, will be water, instead of carbon dioxide. The partners believe the initiative has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 10%, hence the reason the Swedish Energy Agency has granted financial support for the project.
The plan is for construction of the demonstration plant to start in 2023, with the goal of taking the plant into operation in 2025.
“The intention is to be able to demonstrate full-scale production with a capacity of just over 1 Mt/y of iron per year, ie 20% of LKAB’s total processing capacity at Malmberget and almost half of the production capacity of SSAB’s blast furnace in Luleå,” the company said. “The goal is to be first in the world to produce fossil-free steel as early as 2026.”
HYBRIT is now starting an investigation into the selection of a location for the demonstration plant. Parallel consultations are being launched at two sites in Sweden: the Vitåfors industrial estate in Gällivare Municipality, where LKAB has mining operations, and the Svartön industrial estate in Luleå, where facilities including SSAB’s steel mill and LKAB’s ore port are located.
“The purpose is to consult and conduct an open dialogue about the location and design of the plant ahead of the upcoming selection of the site and permit application,” the companies said. “Consultation with government agencies, organisations and the public will begin in June and conclude in September 2020.”
The choice of location will have a major impact on future competitiveness and climate benefits, according to the partners, with investment decisions made once the authorisation procedure and other investigations have been completed.
HYBRIT’s pilot phase will run in parallel with the demonstration phase. In Luleå, the pilot plant for fossil-free steel will be fully constructed during the summer, and preparations are also under way to initiate construction of a temporary hydrogen store to test the technology for storing hydrogen in caverns, the partners said.
Martin Pei, Chief Technical Officer at SSAB and Chairman of HYBRIT, said: “We want to build the plant in Norrbotten. There’s good access to fossil-free electricity and competence here, as well as close collaboration with academia and the community. A demonstration plant for fossil-free iron production would also be positive for growth and jobs in the region, as well as contributing to a major climate benefit.”
Markus Petäjäniemi, Senior Vice President Market and Technology at LKAB, said HYBRIT is an important piece of the “jigsaw puzzle” in a green transition, in which we want to “climate-optimise” the whole chain from mine to finished steel by the year 2045.
“We want Norrbotten to be a world-leading arena for innovation and a centre of knowledge for the global mining and minerals sector,” he added.