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Big Steel is Going ‘All In’ On Hydrogen



Steel is one of the most widely used materials in the world, but also one of the most carbon-intensive. The steel industry accounts for about 8% of global CO2 emissions, and faces increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact. However, there is a new hope for the steel industry: hydrogen.


Hydrogen is a clean and powerful energy source that can be used to replace coal and coke in the ironmaking and steelmaking processes. Hydrogen does not emit any greenhouse gases when burned, only water. Hydrogen can be produced from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, or from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage. Hydrogen can also be stored and transported through pipelines, making it a flexible and scalable option.


Many big steel companies are already experimenting with hydrogen as a way to decarbonize their operations. Cleveland-Cliffs, North America’s largest flat-rolled steel company, is testing hydrogen at a plant in Indiana and building a hydrogen pipeline. The company plans to switch to low-emission green hydrogen when it becomes available in the U.S. Cleveland-Cliffs’ CEO, Lourenco Goncalves, said that hydrogen is the “real game-changing event” in the steel industry, and that the company is doing this to “get paid, not to brag about it.”


Cleveland-Cliffs is not alone in its pursuit of hydrogen. In Europe, several steel companies are leading the way in developing and deploying zero-emission steel. SSAB, a Swedish steelmaker, is aiming to produce the world’s first fossil-free steel by 2026, using green hydrogen and electric arc furnaces. SSAB has already signed contracts with customers such as Volvo to supply them with green steel. Another Swedish company, H2 Green Steel, is planning to build a large-scale green hydrogen plant and a steel mill in northern Sweden, with a capacity of 5 million tons of steel per year by 2030.


The transition to hydrogen-based steel could have significant benefits for the climate, the economy, and the society. According to a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, hydrogen-based steel could reduce global CO2 emissions by 2.8 gigatons per year by 2050, equivalent to the annual emissions of India. Hydrogen-based steel could also create new jobs, markets, and industries, as well as improve air quality and public health. Hydrogen-based steel could also enable the expansion of clean energy infrastructure, such as wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles, which rely on steel as a key component.


Hydrogen is not a silver bullet for the steel industry. Nevertheless, hydrogen offers a promising and exciting opportunity for the steel industry to transform itself and contribute to the global fight against climate change. Hydrogen could revolutionize the way steel is made and used, and create a more sustainable and prosperous future for everyone.

 

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I am curious if Hydrogen could help capture carbon emission and recycle.

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By utilizing hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels, these industries can reduce their carbon footprint and help mitigate climate change. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel in various industrial processes, enabling the production of goods and services with lower carbon emissions. So it reduces carbon on the front end.


As far as using it within current carbon capture technologies, that is a good question. There may be something out there that does that but our research has not flagged any such technologies. Hydrogen is an energy carrier so if that could be integrated into carbon capture, it would be an interesting and valuable technological advancement!

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