HIsarna chalks up another early success, but a long and challenging road lies ahead
The third campaign on a pilot low-carbon iron making plant at Tata Steel’s IJmuiden works in the Netherlands was successfully completed last week.
The latest test campaign by the European steel industry’s ULCOS (Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking) consortium to develop the potentially breakthrough HIsarna technology on the experimental IJmuiden plant started on May 28 and was completed a month later. The highlight was the production of commercial grade steel for the first time from a batch of liquid HIsarna iron. Iron was also repeatedly produced for continuous periods lasting two to three days and tests were conducted using various kinds of coal and ore.
Karl Koehler, MD & CEO of Tata Steel in Europe, said: “This HIsarna campaign has been a significant achievement for ULCOS. I congratulate everyone involved for their hard work and technical expertise. Initiatives like this show the steel industry at its innovative and sustainable best. They are also tangible evidence of how the industry is responding to the challenge of climate change.”
The HIsarna plant has a theoretical capacity of 60,000 tonnes a year, compared to integrated steel plant capacities which are measured in the millions of tonnes. The current phase, which will need to undergo a further campaign before it is completed, is intended to prove the HIsarna concept is capable of producing iron at pilot scale. However many years of further work, including an extremely costly and as yet unfunded large-scale demonstration phase, would be necessary before the technology could be regarded as commercially viable.
The HIsarna process involves making liquid iron using thermal coal and fine iron ore, avoiding two stages in the production process (coking and ore agglomeration) and thereby reducing emissions of CO2.
Koen Meijer, head of Tata Steel’s international HIsarna project team, said: “The process has the theoretical potential to reduce emissions from steelmaking by 20%, but it will be a minimum of ten years before it might be realistic for steel makers to start considering adoption of the technology.”
Tim Morris, Head of Public Affairs at Tata Steel in Europe, said: “If the European steel industry is to succeed in its efforts to develop breakthrough low-carbon iron making technologies, a more favourable legislative environment is needed. Sensible legislation that adequately supports high-cost breakthrough initiatives like HIsarna is a prerequisite, combined with a regulatory framework that does not impose unrealistic targets.
“In particular, European legislators need to urgently reconsider the unfeasible demands they are imposing on an industry that forms the foundation of European manufacturing.”
Research published today by Eurofer* provides conclusive evidence that the European Commission’s targets for steel industry emissions far exceed what is technically achievable.
The new technology has been developed partly at Tata Steel in IJmuiden under the direction of the ULCOS programme, which is regarded as one of the world’s most promising initiatives to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from steel making. European steel companies, mining companies Rio Tinto (whose HIsmelt technology is incorporated within HIsarna) and LKAB, as well as various research institutes have joined forces on this project. HIsarna is also financially supported by the European Union and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.
*Eurofer, the European Steel Association, is today launching a ‘Steel Roadmap for a Low Carbon Europe 2050’. www.eurofer.eu
About Tata Steel in Europe
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With the main steelmaking operations in the UK and Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents. www.tatasteeleurope.com
ULCOS stands for Ultra-Low Carbon dioxide (CO2) Steelmaking. It is a consortium of 48 European companies and organisations from 15 European countries that have launched a cooperative research & development initiative to enable drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from steel production. The consortium consists of all major EU steel companies, of energy and engineering partners, research institutes and universities and is financially supported by the European Commission. The aim of the ULCOS programme is to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of today’s best routes by at least 50 percent. www.ulcos.org