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Steelmakers explore hydrogen to power energy-hungry processes

The role of hydrogen in the carbon reduction of heavy industries is about to stand the test.

In recent months, there has been an increase in global companies that have unveiled pilot programs aimed at demonstrating the potential of gas to change energy-intensive industrial processes and get rid of coal and other fossil fuels.

Earlier this month, Vattenfall, the Swedish electricity group, announced plans to help build the world’s first hydrogen-producing unit Dutch Coast West Marine wind farm project in the Netherlands. The goal is to flow “green” hydrogen to the coast of Rotterdam to be used in a variety of petrochemical and other industrial processes.

The company is already a pioneer in the use of “green” hydrogen – which uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – In the production of green steel For Volvo Group, the carmaker.

As part of a consortium that also includes the Swedish metal producer SSAB and the iron ore miner LKAB, it has deployed water energy from the country’s reservoir system to generate hydrogen through electrolysis. It can then be used as a chemical reducing agent to extract oxygen from iron ore, to produce high-grade steel.

SSAB green steel test facility in Loop, Sweden © Charlie Bibby / FT

Other steelmakers want to reduce the use of highly polluting cookie charcoal as an ingredient in smelting ore, and move to greener energy when it is available.

Arslormital, Europe’s largest steel producer, announced last year $ 5.6 billion in investments in plants in Spain, Canada, Belgium and France. Projects aimed at releasing carbon from steel production.

But the use of hydrogen to reduce carbon in “hard-to-reduce” industries, such as steel production, remains problematic.

Many of these pilots depend on a partial and incomplete transition from natural gas to hydrogen – or from the “green” or “gray” variety, which is extracted from fossil fuels.

ArcelorMittal says its ambition is to ensure that future investments are “hydrogen-ready” so that when a hydrogen supply is available, it can switch to natural gas to help it meet its carbon release targets.

Mikael Nordlander, director of carbon release at industry at Vattenfall, says there is a lot of room for expanding hydrogen use to other areas of heavy industry and transportation.

Last month, consortia in which Vattenpol was involved announced plans to exploit a wind farm off the south-west coast of Sweden to provide Sustainable aviation fuel Based on fossil-free hydrogen, until 2030.

The company is also exploring ways to use green hydrogen to help process “biogenic carbon dioxide” waste produced by the Scandinavian paper and pulp sector.

Hydrogen has a role in a variety of manufacturing sectors “where you need high temperature and it is difficult to apply directly to electricity,” says Nordlander.

But one technological constraint is the bottleneck in the supply of equipment used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen to create the green fuel inventory. “There is not enough capacity to produce electrolytes,” he explains.

Another concern is the uncertainty about the future cost and scope of the hydrogen supply. Investors in installed plants should be reasonably confident that they can be operated economically at full output.

Earlier this year, ThyssenKrupp Nucera, which is majority-owned by German engineering group ThyssenKrupp, pointed to a € 900 million order backlog in its green hydrogen electrolysis equipment orders, saying that Plan an offering Help expand supply. He stated: “The hydrogen market is not only expected to grow sevenfold by 2050, but most of the fossil – based production in the past will be converted to green hydrogen.”

However, fundraising has been frozen.

Brad Davy, senior vice president at ArelorMittal, says the availability and cost of green hydrogen is a challenge at this stage of the transition. Meanwhile, he believes policy support is needed to “ensure that areas that move first do not become uncompetitive, given the global trade nature of steel.”

The UK’s Climate Change Committee, the Independent Government Advisory Group, argues that a major expansion in the use of hydrogen as well as direct electricity from green energy sources is needed to help the country meet its environmental commitments.

Diagram showing the projected demand for hydrogen (tera-watt-hour) according to the 'Zero Balanced Net Track' from 2025 to 2050

Aaron Gutter, an analyst at CCC, says most estimates suggest that heavy industries and manufacturing account for about 15% of UK greenhouse gas emissions today. Much of this output is “combustion-related,” he says, adding “hydrogen can help release most of these emissions.”

Kofi Mabok, a clean energy technology analyst at London’s Carbon Tracker think tank, says he doubts hydrogen will appear as “the best thing since sliced ​​bread” as a way for the carbon decomposition industry, but claims it could be a significant part of a toolkit for achieving environmental ambitions.

“Hydrogen is best used to release carbon from heavy industries and [tackle] Breaks of wind and solar energy “, he says. In heavy transport, especially, green and flammable hydrogen can play a significant role, he adds – although the challenge of operating personal transport on the roads” has been solved by EV vehicles [electric vehicles]”.

Observers agree that there is no point in converting renewable energy into hydrogen and return unnecessarily when the grid supply can be adjusted to demand. “By turning electricity into hydrogen, you lose about 25% of the energy,” Goater notes in the CCC.

However, the growing problem of outages with renewable electricity may create an important ancillary role for hydrogen, alongside battery storage, in storing electricity to balance the grid. Hydrogen similar to natural gas can be stored and burned when needed.

Currently, Mbuk claims, “there is no battery technology that can really increase” to solve this problem fully.

Steelmakers explore hydrogen to power energy-hungry processes Source link Steelmakers explore hydrogen to power energy-hungry processes

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