Green Steel Heating up in Sweden’s Frozen North
Green Steel Heating up in Sweden’s Frozen North

Lulea, Sweden, 4 Apr (ONA) --- For hundreds of years, raging blast furnaces, fed with coking coal, have forged steel used in cars, railways, bridges and skyscrapers.

But the puffs of coal-fired smoke are a big source of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that’s driving climate change.

According to the World Steel Association, every metric ton of steel produced in 2020 emitted almost twice that much carbon dioxide (1.8 tons) into the atmosphere. Total direct emissions from making steel were about 2.6 billion tons in 2020, representing around 7% of global CO2 emissions.

In Sweden, a single company, steel giant SSAB, accounts for about 10% of the country’s emissions due to the furnaces it operates at mills like the one in the northern town of Lulea.

But not far away, a high-tech pilot plant is seeking to significantly reduce the carbon emissions involved in steel production by switching some of that process away from burning coking coal to burning hydrogen that itself was produced with renewable energy.

Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology (HYBRIT) is a joint venture between SSAB, mining company LKAB and Swedish state-owned power firm Vattenfall launched in 2016.

“The cost of renewable energy, fossil-free energy, had come down dramatically and at the same time, you had a rising awareness and the Paris Agreement” in 2015 to reduce global emissions, said Mikael Nordlander, Vattenfall’s head of industry decarbonization.

“We realized that we might have a chance now to outcompete the direct use of fossil fuels in industry with this electricity coming from fossil-free sources,” he added.

--- Ends/Hilal/KH