SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have recently produced the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron at a pilot scale. The technological breakthrough in the HYBRIT initiative eliminates around 90% of emissions in conjunction with steelmaking.
The HYBRIT pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden has completed test production of sponge iron and demonstrates that it is possible to use fossil-free hydrogen gas to reduce iron ore instead of using coal and coke to remove the oxygen. Production has been continuous and of good quality. Around 100 tonnes have been made so far. This is the first time ever that hydrogen made with fossil-free electricity has been used in the direct reduction of iron ore at a pilot scale. The goal in principle is to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the steelmaking process by using only fossil-free feedstock and fossil-free energy in all parts of the value chain.
Hydrogen-based reduction is a critical milestone, which paves the way for future fossil-free iron- and steelmaking. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall intend, through HYBRIT, to create the most efficient value chain from the mine to steel, with the aim of being first to market, in 2026, with fossil-free steel at an industrial scale.