A fossil-free development
Research and development focusing on the HYBRIT technology includes three main phases that overlap to some extent. The development work is run with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency and practical trials are currently being conducted on both the laboratory scale and in pilot plants that have been built or modified for the purpose. Moving directly from the laboratory scale to testing and production on an industrial scale would pose risks, both in terms of production engineering as well as economically. Thus, pilot-scale trials are an important step along the way. The third stage, the demonstration scale, aims to demonstrate that the technology is technically and economically feasible on an industrial scale.
Pilot scale research and development
Some fields of research and development have led to the need for special facilities or modifications of existing plants to carry out experimental development on a pilot scale. This work is taking place in four different fields.
Fossil-free pellet production
The fossil-free iron and steel production starts in the mine. Within HYBRIT, tests are being carried out to develop the manufacturing of iron ore pellets by using non-fossil fuels instead of today’s fossil fuels. The goal of HYBRIT is to develop fossil-free pellets, which requires a change of heating technology in the refining process.
Direct reduction with hydrogen
HYBRIT is conducting trials on the direct reduction of iron ore pellets using hydrogen in our pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden. The trials will run during 2020-2024, starting with fossil-free hydrogen in spring 2021. The plant has a direct reduction shaft, where the reduction takes place, and a number of electrolyzers for the production of hydrogen using fossil-free electricity.
In the HYBRIT process, the fossil-free hydrogen is central to reach the goal of a fossil free iron and steel production. In the plant, tests will be conducted on the best way to store underground in a cavern. Storing hydrogen provides an opportunity to stabilize the energy system and to secure a continuous and cost efficient supply of hydrogen to the reductionprocess.
Smelting of sponge iron
HYBRIT is conducting pilot-scale smelting trials in collaboration with Swerim at their plant in Luleå, Sweden. The trials began in 2019, and are expected to run until 2023. In the plant, trials are being conducted to smelt sponge iron.
Demonstration scale research and development
The ongoing experimental development of pilot scale direct reduction is giving many answers about direct reduction using hydrogen. However, the process and concept is both complex and comprehensive, so in order to resemble the industrial process as far as possible and, among other things, to determine the choice of technology, it is important to conduct a so-called demonstration. The demonstration scale will provide a technically proven, commercially viable and optimized solution at full industrial scale.
Direct reduction on a demonstration scale
In HYBRIT’s planned demonstration plant, we are taking the next step in the development from the lab and pilot scale tests, which are underway today. In the demonstration plant, we will demonstrate production on an industrial scale, which is a necessary step in the development prior to full commercial operation.