Swedish companies tackle fossil-free steel

Three Swedish companies have formed a joint venture to develop a steelmaking process that emits water instead of carbon dioxide. Their aim is to contribute to a fossil-free Sweden by 2045 by reducing carbon emissions along the entire steelmaking production chain.

Last spring, the Swedish power company Vatenfall joined forces with the steel company SSAB and the mining company LKAB to launch the HYBRIT initiative. By replacing coke and coal with hydrogen gas in steelmaking, the initiative’s goal is to achieve a process that discharges water, rather than carbon dioxide, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the Swedish steel industry.

Just one year later, enough progress has been made that the three Swedish companies decided to found a joint venture company to further drive the HYBRIT initiative. Each company will own one third of the joint venture, and a recruitment process is already under way to appoint a CEO.

“HYBRIT is a very important initiative for SSAB and a fossil-free Sweden by 2045. A joint venture company will enable us to work together effectively to eliminate the root cause of carbon dioxide emissions in the steel industry,” Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB, said in a joint statement.

The initiative is divided into three phases: a preliminary study is currently underway and set to finish in 2017. It will be followed by research and pilot plant trials up to 2024. Research will take place up to 2035, including trials in a full-scale demonstration facility.

By developing a fossil-free production chain all the way from the mine to the steelworks, HYBRIT’s impact has the potential to be felt far beyond Sweden. “If we’re successful, this will be a technology breakthrough that can make a global contribution to significantly limiting climate change,” said Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB.


Image credit: Les Chatfield, flickr/Creative Commons

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