The process to achieve net-zero carbon emissions starts with steel producers reducing impact, increase the use of recycled scrap and continue to develop breakthrough technology, according to WorldSteel.
There is no single solution for sustainable iron and steel production, however, countries should assess and implement strategies that work best for them, noted Belgium’s World Steel Association, in its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction report on Tuesday.
A three-step approach, also called StepUp, can reduce direct and indirect emissions up to 20pc at an ore-based steel producing unit and up to 50pc at a scrap-based site. Scrap plays a crucial role in green steel production because every ton avoids 1.5mt of carbon dioxide, consumption of 1.4mt of iron ore, 740kg (0.74mt) of coal, and 120kg of limestone. The future of scrap-based production depends heavily on supply. Global availability of high-grade scrap may increase in the next few years as steel production rose considerably in the early 2000s.
As far as innovation goes, steel producers largely depend on fossil fuels for iron and steel production. Many companies are modifying their blast furnaces to replace fossil fuels with sustainable options. WorldSteel has divided new and upcoming innovations in sustainable iron and steel production in three categories:
- Using carbon as a reductant, for example, using carbon capture, storage (CCUS) facilities, sustainable biomass, to cut emissions.
- Substituting carbon with hydrogen to produce H2O instead of CO2.
- Using electrical energy through electrolysis.
Steel producers will have to use either one or a combination of innovations depending upon resource availability and government policies.
WorldSteel emphasized collaboration between manufacturers, stakeholders, and governments. There is a need to plan a supportive framework that encompasses, policies, financing, and the circular economy as a whole so countries can achieve their carbon neutrality goals.