HYBRIT: Fossil free gas heating – an important step towards fossil free steel

HYBRIT pilotanläggning direktreduktion Luleå

HYBRIT is taking yet another step towards fossil free steel by initiating a project to develop the possibilities for fossil free heating the hydrogen for the reduction process. The next step is to form a strategic partnership to develop an electric heating solution for fossil free hydrogen, that is to be used in the reduction of iron or in the HYBRIT-process.

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall together initiated HYBRIT to develop a fossil-free value chain for iron and steel production using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen, thus minimizing the carbon dioxide emissions throughout the value chain. The HYBRIT technology involves replacing the blast furnace process, which uses carbon and coke to remove the oxygen from iron ore, with a direct reduction process where we use fossil-free hydrogen produced from water using electricity from fossil-free energy sources.

To create the world’s first fossil-free reduction of iron ore to give sponge iron, a central step for fossil-free iron and steel production, research, development, and cooperation are crucial. One of the challenges in the HYBRIT process is the ability to preheat large amounts of hydrogen. By heating the gas with fossil free electricity, any emissions that would be the result if you use fossil fuels in the heating can be avoided.

“Fossil free gas heating is an important component in our groundbreaking technological development towards a completely fossil free value chain from mine to steel”, says Andreas Regnell, SVP Strategic Development at Vattenfall and Chairman of Hybrit Development AB.

The development is part of HYBRIT’s project focusing on electric gas heating. The project is run in cooperation with Kanthal and the first heater has been developed and is being prepared for testing at HYBRIT’s pilot plant for direct reduction using hydrogen in Luleå. The heater will be in the 250 kW range, and if it proves successful, a 1 MW version will be developed. The ambition is to develop a large-scale heating solution that could heat high volumes of hydrogen up to 1,000°C (1,832°F). The development project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency.

“The aim of the project is to develop a fossil free electricity-based heater for reduction gas, this is one of many exciting steps among all the development taking place within the fossil free value chain. We also look at the possibilities for implementation in large scale direct reduction facilities and at the same time we build a lot of knowledge on these matters”, says Eva Vitell, GM of Hybrit Development AB.

In addition to the research and development taking place in the direct reduction pilot plant, HYBRIT plans for an industrial scale demonstration plant. The demonstration plant is to be commissioned to enable fossil free steel in the market by 2026.