German automaker BMW is investing in a new method of carbon-free steel production developed by US-based start-up Boston Metal, through its venture capital firm BMW i Ventures.
BMW said it has invested in the company under its initiative to increase steel recycling rate over the next decade to lower carbon emissions and safeguard the availability of raw material. The German carmaker already utilizes a closed-loop process to reuse scrap produced during its manufacturing process or send it to steel mills for recycling. BMW’s stamping plants across Europe use more than 500,000mt of steel.
Boston Metals has modified the electric arc furnace (EAF) process to produce steel using electrolysis to form molten iron from iron ore to produce steel and steel products. Moreover, a company spokesperson told Davis Index that these products can be free of carbon emissions if electricity is sourced from renewable energy. The technology is also suitable for producing ferro-alloys that are especially useful for producing cars. The company plans to set up demonstration plants to popularize this process over the next few years.
The company’s first customer to use this technology, CMBB Brazil, is slated to produce 1,000mt of ferro-niobium alloy through this process. On an industrial scale, Boston Metals aims to implement this method at large steel plants with an annual capacity of more than 1mn mt to help them reduce carbon emissions, the spokesperson said.