ArcelorMittal commissions plant for hydrogen steel production in Germany

Following ArcelorMittal Germany’s announcement earlier this year that it aims to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050, the company said on Monday that it had commissioned technology provider Midrex Technologies to design a “demonstration plant” at its Hamburg site to produce steel with hydrogen.

Both companies have now signed a framework collaboration agreement (FCA) to cooperate on several projects, ranging from research and development to the implementation of new technologies.

“We are working with a world class provider, Midrex Technologies, to learn how you can produce virgin iron for steelmaking at a large scale by only using hydrogen,” commented Carl de Mare, vice president at ArcelorMittal.

In a first stage, the demonstration plant would use hydrogen sourced from natural gas. Later, the hydrogen would come from renewable energy sources, such as from wind farms off the northern German coast. This conversion would take place once availability is ensured and economic costs are determined.

“Large-scale demonstrations are critical to show our ambition,” de Mare said, adding that such projects would be “key to become carbon neutral in Europe in 2050.”

Combining the expertise of Midrex and ArcelorMittal, the demonstration plant in Hamburg is meant to demonstrate the large-scale production and use of direct reduced iron (DRI), which is made from 100 percent hydrogen as the reductant. During the process, iron oxide pellets are reduced to metallic iron, the raw material for high quality steel, by extracting oxygen using natural gas.

The planned demonstration plant would produce about 100,000 tons of direct reduced iron per year.

In Hamburg, ArcelorMittal is already producing steel using DRI technology. The existing Midrex plant at the Hamburg site had the lowest CO2 emissions for high-quality steel production in Europe, according to ArcelorMittal.

In May 2019, ArcelorMittal first revealed its ambition to significantly reduce its global CO2 emissions and to be carbon neutral in its European operations by 2050. To achieve this goal, the company has been working on a strategic roadmap and plans to announce a target for 2030 next year.

“It will depend on the political conditions, how fast transformation will take place,” ArcelorMittal Vice President de Mare concluded.