Tag Archives: Swedish Energy Agency

HYBRIT partners produce world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall say they have now produced the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron at a pilot scale.

The technological breakthrough in the HYBRIT initiative captures around 90% of emissions in conjunction with steelmaking and is a decisive step on the road to fossil-free steel, the partners say.

The feat from the HYBRIT pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden, showed it is possible to use fossil-free hydrogen gas to reduce iron ore instead of using coal and coke to remove the oxygen. Production has been continuous and of good quality, the companies said, with around 100 t made so far.

This is the first time ever that hydrogen made with fossil-free electricity has been used in the direct reduction of iron ore at a pilot scale, according to the HYBRIT partners. The goal, in principle, is to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the steelmaking process by using only fossil-free feedstock and fossil-free energy in all parts of the value chain.

Hydrogen-based reduction is a critical milestone, which paves the way for future fossil-free iron and steelmaking. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall intend, through HYBRIT, to create the most efficient value chain from the mine to steel, with the aim of being first to market, in 2026, with fossil-free steel at an industrial scale, they say.

Last year, HYBRIT, a joint initiative of SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, began test operations to make hydrogen-reduced sponge iron in the pilot plant built with support from the Swedish Energy Agency. The technology is being constantly developed and the sponge iron that has been successfully made using hydrogen technology is the feedstock for the fossil-free steel of the future, they say.

Jan Moström, President and CEO at LKAB, said: “This is a major breakthrough both for us and for the entire iron and steel industry. LKAB is the future supplier of sponge iron and this is a critical step in the right direction. Progress with HYBRIT enables us to maintain the pace in our transition and, already in 2026, we will begin the switch to industrial-scale production with the first demonstration plant in Gällivare, Sweden. Once LKAB has converted its entire production to sponge iron, we will enable the transition of the steel industry and reduce global emissions by around 35 Mt a year, which corresponds to two thirds of Sweden’s entire emissions. This is the greatest action we can take together for the good of the climate.”

Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO at SSAB, added: “This technological breakthrough is a critical step on the road to fossil-free steel. The potential cannot be underestimated. It means that we can reach climate goals in Sweden and Finland and contribute to reducing emissions across Europe. At the same time, it creates new jobs and export successes. SSAB’s transition means we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland. High-strength fossil-free steel will also allow us to help our customers to strengthen their competitiveness. As early as this year, we will deliver minor quantities of steel made using hydrogen-based reduction to customers, and in 2026 we will deliver fossil-free steel at a large scale.”

The hydrogen used in the direct reduction process is generated by electrolysis of water with fossil-free electricity, and can be used immediately or stored for later use, according to the partners. In May, HYBRIT began work on building a pilot-scale hydrogen storage facility adjacent to the direct reduction pilot plant in Luleå.

Anna Borg, President and CEO at Vattenfall, said: “Sweden’s and Vattenfall’s fossil-free electricity is a basic requirement for the low carbon footprint of hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. The breakthrough that we can announce today shows in a very real way how electrification contributes to enabling a fossil-free life within a generation.”

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall plot HYBRIT pilot production pathway

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.

HYBRIT hydrogen storage facility finds financial backing

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have agreed to invest SEK150 million ($15.2 million) on construction of a storage facility for hydrogen at the HYBRIT pilot plant for fossil-free steel.

The funding, which comes on top of the Swedish Energy Agency’s close to SEK50 million pledge, is an important step towards the goal of fossil-free iron and steel production, the HYBRIT joint venture partners said.

The HYBRIT initiative began in 2016. By using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen instead of coke and coal in steel production, the emissions will be water instead of carbon dioxide. The initiative has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 10%, according to company estimates.

The plan is to build the new hydrogen gas storage facility 25-35 m below the ground surface on LKAB’s land in Svartöberget, Sweden, close to the pilot plant currently under construction on SSAB’s site in Luleå. Construction of the 100 cu.m storage facility is expected to start in 2021 and it will operate from 2022-2024. It is expected to be a pressurised hydrogen gas storage facility in a bedrock cavern with a steel lining as a sealing layer.

The implementation study for the HYBRIT initiative showed large-scale storage of hydrogen gas can play an important role in Sweden’s future energy system. As well as acting as a buffer to ensure an even flow to the steel production, a large-scale hydrogen gas storage facility would offer a better opportunity to balance the electricity system with a greater proportion of weather-dependent power generation, and enable a competitive production cost for the fossil-free steel, according to the project partners.

Magnus Hall, Vattenfall’s President and CEO, said: “I am very pleased that we, as partners, are step by step developing our joint fossil-free steel project, and the support from the Swedish Energy Agency is important.

“Now, with the support of the community, we are investing in the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a value chain in which hydrogen gas plays a decisive role in the success of the initiative and the development of competitive fossil-free electricity generation in Sweden.”

Martin Lindqvist, SSAB’s President and CEO, said the investment in a storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas is “an important building block in achieving our goal of a fossil-free value chain from ore to finished steel”, with Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO, adding that he was pleased the project could make use of parts of the company’s former ore port facility for the experiment.

Robert Andrén, Director General of the Swedish Energy Agency, said large, complex and expensive leaps in technology need to be taken for the sake of the climate, to achieve the goal of zero net emissions.

“Large-scale storage of hydrogen gas will be an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a fossil-free value chain for steel manufacturing, but also in a future electricity system with an increasing proportion of weather-dependent power,” he said.

In June last year, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, the HYBRIT initiative partners, started the construction of a unique pilot plant in Luleå. Work also began recently on the reconstruction of a pellet works in Malmberget to replace fossil fuel with bio oil, with the aim of manufacturing fossil-free pellets.

The pilot plants for fossil-free steel production will be used from 2021 to 2024, and the partners are already looking into the possibility of scaling up the manufacturing by building a demonstration plant in 2025, three years earlier than previously planned, to produce fossil-free steel from iron ore for commercial use. The aim for 2035 is to sell fossil-free steel on a broad scale.