November 13 (Renewables Now) - Industrial engineering and steel production giant ThyssenKrupp AG (ETR:TKA) has launched a series of tests into the use of hydrogen to replace coal in steel production.
The steelmaker explains that in the classic blast furnace process around 300 kg of coke and 200 kg of pulverised coal are needed to produce a tonne of pig iron. The coal is injected as an additional reducing agent into the bottom of the blast furnace shaft through 28 so-called tuyeres. One of these will now inject hydrogen instead of coal.
Fully employed, the use of hydrogen instead of coal at this step in the production process could lead to CO2 savings of 20%, Thyssenkrupp wrote in a press release on Monday.
Thyssenkrupp emitted around 24 million tonnes of CO2 in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, equal to almost 3% of Germany’s total emissions but the company has set itself a target to become to become climate-neutral by 2050. By 2030, emissions from the company’s own production and processes (scope 1 emissions) as well as emissions from the purchase of energy (scope 2) are to be reduced by 30%.
“Steel production will play an important role in reaching our climate targets because the potential for reducing emissions is huge,” said Klaus Keysberg, member of the company’s executive board.
The company sees the use of hydrogen as the key lever for climate-neutral steel production. Following the conversion of the blast furnaces, the company plans to build large-scale direct reduction plants, which will then be operating with hydrogen-containing gases, starting in the mid-2020s, said thyssenkrupp.
The sponge iron they produce will initially be melted down in the existing blast furnaces but in the long term it will be processed into crude steel in electric arc furnaces using renewable energies.