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The Role of Hydrogen in Decarbonizing Steel Production

Hydrogen Application in Steel Production Industry

As the world moves toward a low-carbon economy, the steel sector is looking into creative ways to lower its carbon emissions. The use of hydrogen in the manufacturing of steel is one possible remedy.

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Primarily based on metallurgical coal at the moment, primary steelmaking could be revolutionized by hydrogen. One significant source of carbon emissions from steel mills could be eliminated by using hydrogen instead of coal as a reducing agent during the smelting of iron ore. Leading steelmakers are launching pilot projects and research initiatives worldwide as the idea of “green steel” gains traction.

Swedish steel producer SSAB is among the leaders. In 2021, the company used hydrogen in a direct reduced iron (DRI) plant to produce its first fossil-free steel. Using renewable energy sources to power water electrolysis, this renewable hydrogen was created. By 2026, SSAB wants to be a commercial supplier of fossil-free steel to the market.

For every ton of steel produced, the conventional blast furnace method of making iron emits almost two tons of CO2. Green hydrogen powered DRI has the potential to cut emissions by more than 90%. Yet, there are significant obstacles related to infrastructure, storage, transportation, and cost when producing hydrogen steel at a larger scale. To be truly competitive, hydrogen-based steel still needs more research and development.

Nevertheless, industry insiders believe hydrogen steel has a lot of promise. It provides a real route to net-zero emissions while protecting current resources and expertise. In the ensuing decades, hydrogen appears destined to upend steelmaking, even though the technology’s implementation may be gradual. Green steel has the potential to completely transform one of the most carbon-intensive sectors of the global economy, given sufficient funding and political will.

Here is a brief overview of the two main Hydrogen Application in Steel Production Industry:

  • As a reducing agent: In the direct reduced iron (DRI) process, iron ore (Fe2O3) is reduced to pure iron (Fe) using hydrogen. In this process, the oxygen in the iron ore is extracted using hydrogen rather than coke.
  • For annealing and heat treatment: Steel is heat-treated and annealed using hydrogen. Steel can be uniformly heated to increase its ductility and other mechanical properties thanks to hydrogen’s high heat capacity and heat transfer qualities. During thermal processing, hydrogen keeps the steel surface from oxidizing and decarburizing.

hydrogen used in steel production:

  • Oxygen and sulfur are eliminated from molten steel by injecting hydrogen into it. As a result, the finished steel is stronger and of higher quality.
  • Steel is shielded from oxidation during the annealing and heat treatment procedures by the use of hydrogen. Steel gains strength through heat treatment and becomes more ductile through annealing.
  • Chemicals like methanol, which are utilized in the coating and galvanization of steel, are created when hydrogen and carbon monoxide are mixed. This keeps corrosion from affecting the steel.
  • Iron ore is reduced to molten iron in blast furnaces using hydrogen firing. Comparing this method to using coke, it is both cleaner and more effective.

Does this help summarize the main uses of hydrogen in steel making? Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!

Read More: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/industry-practice/hydrogen/steel-production-industry

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