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A piece of the future – SSAB produces the world's first fossil-free steel

In Sweden, steel industry major SSAB has announced that it has produced the first fossil-free steel in the world and delivered it to a customer. The test delivery is an important step toward a fully fossil-free iron and steel production value chain and a milestone for the Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology (HYBRIT) partnership between SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall AB.

In July 2021, SSAB Oxelösund rolled the first steel produced using HYBRIT technology, i.e., reduced by 100 percent fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke. “A piece of the future” is the first object made from the world’s first fossil-free steel. “The candle holder, with its softly pleated rays beaming out from the candle, symbolizes the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a symbol of hope. It truly is… a piece of the future,” says Lena Bergström, Designer (photo courtesy Stefan Ek, LeStudio).

In 2016, SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall launched the Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology (HYBRIT) project forming the HYBRIT joint venture in 2017 with the aim of developing a technology for fossil-free iron- and steelmaking.

It’s very pleasing that the HYBRIT partnership is once more taking an important step forward and that SSAB can now produce the first fossil-free steel and deliver to the customer. This shows how partnerships and collaboration can contribute to reducing emissions and building competitiveness for industries. Electrification is contributing to making fossil-free living possible within one generation, said Anna Borg, President, and CEO of Vattenfall.

In June 2021, the three companies were able to showcase the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron produced at HYBRIT’s pilot plant in Luleå. This first sponge iron has since been used to produce the first steel made with this breakthrough technology.

It’s a crucial milestone and an important step towards creating a completely fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel. We’ve now shown, together, that it’s possible, and the journey continues. By industrializing this technology in the future and making the transition to the production of sponge iron on an industrial scale, we will enable the steel industry to make the transition. This is the greatest thing we can do together for the climate, said Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB.

In July 2021, SSAB Oxelösund rolled the first steel produced using HYBRIT technology, i.e., reduced by 100 percent fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke, with good results. The steel is now being delivered to the first customer, the Volvo Group. Marking the milestone occassion on August 18, 2021 for HYBRIT at SSAB Oxelösund are Minister Ibrahim Baylan (left), Martin Lindqvist President and CEO of SSAB; Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB; and Anna Borg, President, and CEO of Vattenfall (photo courtesy Vattenfall).

The goal of HYBRIT is to create a completely fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel, with fossil-free iron-ore pellets, fossil-free electricity, and hydrogen, and deliver fossil-free steel to the market and demonstrate the technology on an industrial scale as early as 2026.

The first fossil-free steel in the world is not only a breakthrough for SSAB, it represents proof that it’s possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry. We hope that this will inspire others to also want to speed up the green transition, said Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB.

Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately ten percent and Finland’s by approximately seven percent.

Industry and especially the steel industry create large emissions but are also an important part of the solution. To drive the transition and become the world’s first fossil-free welfare state, a collaboration between business, universities and the public sector is crucial. The work done by SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall within the framework of HYBRIT drives the development of the entire industry and is an international model, commented Ibrahim Baylan, Sweden’s Minister of Trade and Industry.

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