Boston Metal’s molten oxide electrolysis may decarbonize global steel

Sustainable energy

United States – Boston Metal’s patented molten oxide electrolysis (MOE) process takes advantage of clean electricity to transform low-grade iron ore into high-purity molten iron.

This single-step method eliminates the need for secondary steel processing, which is a significant source of CO2 emissions, and produces no waste, making it an attractive option for those seeking a straightforward, scalable, and thoroughly decarbonized alternative.

The industrial process of making iron and steel is responsible for more than 8% of all global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and uses a significant portion of the world’s energy resources. Since the most common way of producing steel, the blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF), relies mostly on coal for fuel, steelmaking has proven to be one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize.

Alternatives to coal-powered steel production and the potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the steel industry can be achieved through the use of technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), natural gas-based direct reduced iron (NG-DRI), and hydrogen-based direct reduced iron (H2-DRI).

The MOE method developed by Boston Metal can help improve national policy agendas while also satisfying all technical decarbonization standards. By consolidating several processes into just one, MOE has the potential to reduce the price of steel by around 15% compared to current world prices for steel produced using coal. MOE, like aluminum smelting, operates in modular reactors and can be cheaply expanded in increments of less than 100,000 tons/year of output capacity.

Production-scale demonstration

The technical validation and subsequent scaling of Boston Metal’s MOE technology has reached a tipping point. Boston Metal has proven MOE at an industrial scale with a mix of public and private funding. But the steel industry won’t invest in its worldwide rollout until MOE has been proven at full industrial scale, with the complexity of the real world.

Due to the prohibitive expense of building new factories and the thin profit margins on this commodity good, the steel sector is slow to embrace new technologies. It might take a decade or more to reach commercial deployment if we wait for the steel industry to drive MOE forward on its own. The DOE will facilitate the commercialization of MOE within the next three years with a wholly domestic supply chain by co-investing with industry stakeholders in the first full-scale demonstration of MOE.