Iron ore quality a potential headwind to green steelmaking – Technology and mining options are available to hit net-zero steel targets

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Some steel companies in Europe especially are planning new direct reduced iron production capacity, a technology that can reduce emissions significantly when run using green hydrogen. As a result, demand for direct reduction-grade (DR-grade) iron ore is set to rise.

The challenge imposed by limited DR-grade iron ore supply on plans for a large global scale-up of DRI production is significant.

To avoid locking in further coal-based steelmaking capacity for decades, some technology switching to DRI processes will be required before 2030 to achieve net zero by 2050.

Green steelmaking will need technology and mining advances

Read the full story from IEEFA.

The shift towards green hydrogen-based direct reduced iron (DRI) processes is widely considered a key step in the global steel sector’s decarbonisation pathway.

While supply of suitable direct reduction-grade iron ore is a potential headwind, developments in mining and processing combined with technology solutions present a path to zero-emissions DRI.

The current dominance of coal-consuming blast furnace operations gives iron ore miners an incentive to continue producing blast furnace-grade iron ore, rather than DR-grade ores with higher iron content. Remedies include developing mines that can produce high-quality ores and new technology configurations that allow use of blast furnace-grade ore in DRI processes.

U.S. Department of Energy will fund applied research and development to accelerate decarbonization of American industry

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) recently announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will support DOE’s efforts to decarbonize the American industrial sector and move the U.S. toward net-zero carbon emissions.  

The industrial sector currently accounts for one third of domestic, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. DOE’s new FOA will support the advancement of a range of decarbonization technologies that can shrink the carbon footprint of America’s vital industries.  

Decarbonizing industry presents a difficult challenge, given the wide range of energy inputs and complexity of industrial processes. It will require the U.S. to pursue multiple strategies in parallel. DOE has identified four key pathways to industrial decarbonization: energy efficiency; industrial electrification; low carbon fuels, feedstocks, and energy sources; and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. 

The “Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization FOA” is expected to include the following topics, applying the four industrial decarbonization pathways to energy-intensive American industries where decarbonization technologies could have the greatest impact:  

  • Decarbonizing Chemicals: This topic will focus on unit operations, including advanced separations and advanced reactors, and alternative production and process heating technologies to reduce carbon impacts from the production of high-volume chemicals.
  • Decarbonizing Iron and Steel: This topic will focus on advancements that enable decarbonization in ore-based or scrap-based iron and steelmaking operations, and that convert other existing iron and steelmaking ancillary and thermal processes to use clean fuels or electricity.
  • Decarbonizing Food and Beverage Products: This topic will focus on innovative technologies that decarbonize process heating operations within the food and beverage sector.
  • Decarbonizing Cement and Concrete: This topic will focus on next generation cement formulations and process routes, utilization of low carbon fuels, and carbon capture technologies.
  • Decarbonizing Paper and Forest Products: This topic will focus on novel paper and wood drying technologies, and innovative pulping and paper forming technologies.
  • Cross-sector Decarbonization Technologies: This topic will focus on innovations in low temperature waste heat to power, thermal energy storage, and industrial heat pump technologies. 

DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office plans to issue the FOA via EERE Exchange in August 2022. EERE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately 24-36 months.

For more information about this NOI, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Office website.

World’s largest solar-powered steel mill breaks ground in Colorado

Read the full story at Construction Dive.

In a step toward decarbonizing the emission-intensive steelmaking industry, Evraz North America is building the world’s largest solar-powered steel plant. 

A 300-megawatt solar farm will power Evraz’s Rocky Mountain Steel mill facility, using more than 750,000 solar panels on 1,800 acres south of Pueblo, Colorado. The Bighorn solar array is the largest onsite solar project for a single customer in the U.S. and the largest solar project east of the Rockies. 

More than 400 people are now employed in building the $500 million long rail mill, which is about 15% complete, and 400 more are expected to join the construction crew later this year, Colorado Public Radio reports. The general contractor on the project is Fargo, North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction, according to the Pueblo Chieftain.

The expansion of a solar-powered steel mill is underway in Pueblo

Read the full story from Colorado Public Radio.

U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper recently toured the construction site for a new state-of-the-art steel mill in Pueblo.

When operating at full capacity, the facility, owned by the multi-national company EVRAZ, is expected to process more than a billion pounds of steel each year into tens of millions of feet of rail for replacing and building train tracks around North America.

Construction of the new long rail mill is about 15 percent done according to EVRAZ management. It’ll use power generated by 750,000 nearby solar panels

BloombergNEF: Steel could be made with almost no carbon emissions through 2050

Read the full story at Recycling Today.

According to a report from BloombergNEF (BNEF), a strategic research provider covering global commodity markets and the technologies driving the transition to a low-carbon economy, steel producers virtually could eliminate carbon emissions through $278 billion of extra investment by 2050, with hydrogen and recycling playing pivotal roles.