Major investment in a one-of-a-kind plant for production of fossil-free steel

The Swedish Energy Agency has granted HYBRIT, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall's initiative for fossil-free steel funding for two pilot plants. The Agency finances the two projects with a total of SEK 528 million, which will be the largest funding in the history of the Agency.

The Swedish Energy Agency has decided to fund the next step of the HYBRIT initiative to build two pilot plants, which are expected to be ready in 2020. In the plants, tests will be carried out to allow for a scaling up of fossil-free steel production. The total cost of the pilot phase is estimated at SEK 1.4 billion. The Swedish Energy Agency funds the two projects with a total of SEK 528 million, and SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall account for the remainder of the financing.

– With our commitment to the HYBRIT initiative, we are driving the transition on to a fossil-free industry and a sustainable society. In addition, we contribute to long-term competitiveness for the Swedish iron and steel industry and switching up the work on green energy systems in Sweden, says Rémy Kolessar, Head of the Swedish Energy Agency's Research and Innovation department.

The projects are seen as the next decisive step for the iron and steel industry's transition towards reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and an important contribution to Sweden's net greenhouse gas emissions target for 2045.

The HYBRIT concept encompasses the entire value chain from ore to steel and not only contributes to reduced emissions in Sweden, but also impacts internationally by reduced carbon footprint in steel production due to export.

–Trials at pilot-plant scale are necessary to verify our conclusions from the small-scale laboratory attempts in a larger scale that is more similar to the future industrial process. They provide the basis for a clearer understanding of what happens within an interconnected industrial system and how we can achieve an efficient production process. This is a critical step in order to ultimately reach our goal of fossil-free steel production and to reap all its environmental benefits. With that in mind, we're very happy that the Swedish Energy Agency has chosen to continue to support us," says HYBRIT CEO Mårten Görnerup.

The funding is divided into two projects

Project 1 (Preliminary studies on direct reduction based on hydrogen gas with a subsequent steel production process) concerns preliminary studies on the direct reduction of iron ore pellets using hydrogen gas and their subsequent melting in an electric arc furnace for the purpose of steel production. These studies aim to develop a technique in which pure hydrogen gas is used as the reducing agent in the production of sponge iron from iron ore pellets. This is both HYBRIT's core concept and the phase that requires the most research and development.

Project 2 (Preliminary studies on fossil-free pellet heating) investigates the development of a fossil-free heating technique for the sintering of iron ore pellets. The studies' dual aim is to reduce emissions from existing pellet plants and to design a new pelletizing process.

About the funding of HYBRIT

The projects are implemented within the framework of Industrial Leap, which is the Swedish Government's long-term venture of SEK 300 million per year, to support the development of technologies and processes to significantly reduce process-related greenhouse gas emissions in Swedish industry.

Since HYBRIT was initiated in the spring of 2016, the Swedish Energy Agency has funded three projects within the initiative, a feasibility study, a research project of approximately SEK 71 million, and a project for planning and designing the pilot facility now being funded.