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SSAB initiates Energy4HYBRIT fossil-free steel study in Finland

Sweden-headed global steel company SSAB has started a study in Finland for fossil-free steelmaking, in line with the HYBRIT project. In partnership with Gasum, Neste, and St1, SSAB is initiating an Energy4HYBRIT pre-feasibility study supported by Business Finland to investigate the use of fossil-free energy sources, primarily biomass side-streams, to replace fossil fuels in certain steelmaking processes such as rolling. SSAB's Raahe mill will act as the pilot.

An aerial view of the SSAB Raahe steel mill in Finland. In partnership with ith Gasum, Neste, and St1 and with the assistance of the University of Oulu and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), SSAB has launched the Energy4HYBRIT project to focus on removing fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in its steel processing operations (photo courtesy SSAB).

In Sweden, the Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology (HYBRIT) initiative, jointly owned by SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall, aims to replace the coke used in iron ore-based steelmaking with hydrogen. Ironmaking accounts for around 90 percent of SSAB’s fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The new hydrogen-based reduction process would emit water instead of CO2. Laboratory tests and a pre-feasibility study have shown that the process works and the pilot plant being built in Luleå, Sweden will be completed in 2020.

The Finnish effort is an important step in our ambition to become fossil-free in all our operations. Together with our partners, we will introduce a completely fossil-free value chain from the mine to the finished steel products. We are aiming to be the first in the world with fossil-free steels to the market already in 2026, said Martin Lindqvist, CEO, and President at SSAB.

The aim of the HYBRIT initiative is an ambitious one and will potentially reduce Sweden’s fossil CO2 emissions by 10 percent and Finland’s by 7 percent.

The joint Energy4HYBRIT project now being launched will focus on the remaining 10 percent of carbon dioxide emissions originating in numerous other steelmaking processes than ironmaking. One of the main aims of the pre-feasibility study will be to explore the possibility to use fuels other than fossil fuels in these processes. Regarding biofuels, the project will study the possibilities of collecting, transporting and utilizing felling and other biowaste and sidestream products from the Baltic Sea region, said Harri Leppänen, Director, Environment and Safety at SSAB.

SSAB Raahe will act as SSAB’s pilot works. The University of Oulu and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) will study and model all the energy flows at the works. The energy companies involved in the pre-feasibility study are looking into the use and availability of alternative energy sources. The study will be finished before June 2020.

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