North Sweden Cleantech

Fossil-free steel pilot plant in Luleå – direct reduction of iron ore pellets with hydrogen

HYBRIT is conducting trials on direct reduction of iron ore pellets, using hydrogen produced by fossil-free electricity. HYBRIT is also building a pilot hydrogen storage to test the best way to store hydrogen underground.

Fossil-free value chain

HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) was started by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall to develop a fossil-free value chain for iron and steel production using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. 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. Instead of carbon dioxide, water vapor is formed.

Direct reduction pilot

HYBRIT has been working to develop the world’s first fossil-free steel since 2016. The development work is proceeding by means of studies, in laboratories and through the extensive testing that is taking place in the pilot direct reduction plant in Luleå. The pilot plant, the first of its kind, was completed in 2020 and the first hydrogen reduced sponge iron was produced in May 2021. In the plant, technical solutions are being optimized and verified. The experimental development of a process to reduce iron ore using fossil-free hydrogen, which is split from water in electrolysis, is proceeding. The plant has a direct reduction shaft, where the reduction takes place, and several electrolyzers to produce hydrogen using fossil-free electricity.

In the HYBRIT process, the fossil-free hydrogen is central. It is produced by electrolysis of water and is used in the direct reduction shaft to remove the oxygen from the iron ore pellets. The electrolysis is done using fossil-free electricity. The hydrogen that will be used in the process is produced next to the direct reduction plant and can be used directly or stored.

Hydrogen storage pilot

Storing hydrogen provides an opportunity to stabilize the energy system by producing hydrogen when there is plenty of electricity, for example when it is windy, and using the stored hydrogen when the electrical system is under strain. To secure the availability of fossil-free hydrogen, it is important that it can be stored under safe and efficient conditions.

To test this HYBRIT is building a pilot hydrogen storage plant in Svartöberget, in Luleå, Sweden. The pilot hydrogen storage plant is being built close to the pilot plant for direct reduction and they are connected by a pipeline. In the plant, tests will be conducted on the best way to store underground in a cavern.

The plant in Luleå is built in 2021 and tests will take place in 2022-2024.

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