Three of northern Sweden’s largest companies LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall have joined forces in a unique initiative to revolutionize the Swedish iron and steel industry and become the first in the world to produce fossil-free steel.
Under the name HYBRIT, the companies are working to develop the first fossil-free steel.
With the new technology, there is the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by at least ten per cent. This corresponds to one-third of industrial emissions and has the potential to reduce emissions from iron and steel production worldwide by 35 million tonnes, corresponding to two-thirds of all of Sweden’s emissions.
– The idea of doing this has been around for a long time, with us and other companies around the world. Once the technology was in place, we were quick to test it and became the first in the world to produce fossil-free steel, says Anders Lindberg, who has followed the project since its start in 2016.
The technology means that the blast furnace process that uses coal and coke to remove the oxygen from the iron ore is replaced by a direct reduction process. Fossil-free hydrogen is used in the process, which is produced from water with electricity from renewable energy sources. Instead of carbon dioxide, water vapour is formed in the new procedure.
The strength lies in the collaboration
HYBRIT’s three companies each offer their expertise to different parts of the project and the strength lies in this collaboration. Through HYBRIT, expertise and resources are gathered to develop a value chain where synergies are utilized.
–The companies’ different competencies are the strength of the project. Through the collaboration, we can create a fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel. The partnership can contribute to radically reducing emissions, while at the same time giving us increased competitiveness for the industry, says Anders Lindberg, at LKAB.
Fossil-free steel on the market by 2026
In June 2021, the three companies were able to showcase the world’s first hydrogen-reduced iron sponge, produced in HYBRIT’s pilot plant in Luleå. The first iron sponge has since been used to produce the first steel made with the cutting-edge HYBRIT technology.
–Companies are already lining up to buy the fossil-free steel and surveys show that people are willing to pay a little more to get, for example, a car made of fossil-free steel.
LKAB has targeted zero carbon dioxide emissions from its own processes and products by 2045, while SSAB aims to be the first in the world with fossil-free steel on the market as early as 2026. Vattenfall strives to make it possible for people to live fossil-free within a generation.