Metso and Rio Tinto to work on continuous pilot plant for BioIron process

Rio Tinto has awarded Metso a detailed design and engineering contract for its continuous pilot plant (CPP) for the BioIron™ process.

The contract is an extension of the work that Rio Tinto and Metso have been doing together on the development of the BioIron process, the effectiveness of which was successfully proven through small-scale pilot tests conducted at Metso’s Research Center in Frankfurt, Germany.

The process uses raw biomass instead of metallurgical coal as a reductant and microwave energy to convert Pilbara iron ore to metallic iron in the steelmaking process. BioIron has the potential to support near-zero CO2 steelmaking, and can result in net negative emissions if linked with carbon capture and storage, according to Rio Tinto.

Rio aims to move further towards full-scale implementation of the BioIron technology through operation of a CPP, according to Metso, with the OEM entrusted with the detailed design of the CPP’s reduction furnace and certain other equipment for the BioIron process.

David Leigh, General Manager Steel Decarbonisation at Rio Tinto, said: “This work is the key next step in the development of the BioIron technology and builds on the success of the research and development team.”

Matthias Gabriel, Director, Ferrous at Metso, added: “We are very excited to continue the close working relationship with Rio Tinto and to provide engineering and design support as we move to the next phase of development of the BioIron technology.”