SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall are taking a decisive step toward fossil-free steelmaking with the start-up of Hybrit’s pilot plant for the production of fossil-free sponge iron. At the plant, Hybrit will perform tests in several stages in the use of hydrogen in the direct reduction of iron ore.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven started up the plant together with Isabella Lövin, Minister for Environment and Climate. And Deputy Prime Minister, Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB, Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB and Magnus Hall, President and CEO of Vattenfall. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall aim to create a complete value chain for fossil-free steel.
‘I am delighted that today we can start up the plant together with the realization that Swedish industry is leading the global transition to sustainable development and lower climate impact. For LKAB, Hybrit is a step on our journey towards our goal of being a leading carbon-free actor in a fossil-free value chain in 2045. The pilot plant will play a decisive role before we can ramp up the technology for use on an industrial scale. The oxygen in the iron is the great challenge and we need to eliminate it’, says Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB.
Just over 2 years ago on June 20, 2018, the ground was broken to mark the start of building the pilot plant for fossil-free sponge iron (DRI/HBI) with financial support from the Swedish Energy Agency. At the plant, HYBRIT will perform tests in several stages in the use of hydrogen in the direct reduction of iron ore. The hydrogen will be produced at the pilot plant by electrolyzing water with fossil-free electricity.
Tests will be carried out between 2020 and 2024, first using natural gas and then hydrogen to be able to compare production results. The framework for HYBRIT also includes a full-scale effort to replace fossil oil with bio oil in one of LKAB’s existing pellet plants in Malmberget in a test period extending until 2021. Preparations are also under way to build a test hydrogen storage facility on LKAB’s land in Svartöberget in Luleå, near the pilot plant.
Carbon emission reduction
The HYBRIT initiative has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland, as well as contributing to cutting steel industry emissions in Europe and globally. Today, the steel industry generates 7% of total global carbon-dioxide emissions. With HYBRIT, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall aim to create a completely fossil-free value chain from the mine to finished steel and to introduce a completely new technology using fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke to reduce the oxygen in iron ore. This means the process will emit ordinary water instead of carbon dioxide.