Hydrogen in steelmaking

2 Min Read

Steel is one of the most important structural materials in the world. It is strong, tough, sufficiently lightweight and cheap. The steel industry, however, contributes up to 10% of worldwide direct emissions from fossil fuels. Each ton of steel produced results in, on average, almost two tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Almost 2 billion tons of steel are produced each year. Demand for steel is also growing in many parts of the world, with demand for steel occasionally serving as a good proxy for economic development given its importance in infrastructure development.

Iron ore

Iron ore is mined and then turned into steel. The most polluting stage of the process is the reduction of iron ore to iron. Traditionally, this is achieved with coke fuel. This stage of the steelmaking process contributes most of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with steel production, though almost the entire value chain is environmentally deleterious; from mining through to steelmaking.

A solution to much of this pollution is the use of hydrogen as a reducing agent and as a source of industrial heat. Thyssenkrupp Steel, ArcelorMittal, SSAB are examples of large steelmakers piloting the use of hydrogen to decarbonise steel production.

Steel production is a highly cost-sensitive industry, and the use of hydrogen necessarily makes ‘green steel’ – that is steel produced without carbon emissions – more expensive than steel using traditional processes and fuels. Governments can incentivise green production technologies to achieve cost parity with traditional steels. Regardless, steelmakers need visibility on the cost of hydrogen to optimise their decarbonisation efforts and overall operations.

Altroleum provides daily hydrogen production cost assessments with the highest temporal and spatial granularity on the market. Altroleum covers all of the well established production technologies (SMR, SMR w/ CCS, AEM, PEM) and covers geographies across Europe and North America.

A hydrogen price assessment in the Altroleum platform

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