Carbon capture is a vital tool in the decarbonization of the steel industry
Report on the CATO-ECN event 'Reducing the carbon footprint of the steel industry'
On the 19th and 20th of April 2017, approximately 60 participants took part in a two-day conference to discuss the role of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) in the European steel industry. The event was organized by CATO, the Dutch national research programme for CCUS, and the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands, ECN. The event was also sponsored by TKI Gas, the Dutch platform for knowledge and innovation in gas. As well as bringing the Dutch and international CCUS research community together, the event also served as an outreach event of two large European H2020 projects, STEPWISE and FReSMe.
The event was opened by Jan Hopman, Director of CATO. Mr Hopman emphasized the urgency of climate change mitigation, highlighting that global CO2 emissions must peak before 2021 in order limit global warming to 1.5°C, or 2036 to limit warming to 2.0°C against pre-industrial levels.
In another opening presentation, John Gale of the International IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEA GHG), stressed the importance of CCUS in decarbonizing industry, mentioning that scenarios from the IEA indicate that there are severe limitations in decarbonizing industrial sectors with renewable energy sources alone. Sectors such as cement and steel will need CCS as part of their mitigation strategies.
Carmine Marzano, Research Programme Officer at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation, presented on the Commission’s research and development strategy for industrial sectors. Energy efficiency, the electrification of processes and CCS/CCU are considered as three key routes for decarbonizing industry. The Commission is making considerable funding available, specifically through the Horizon 2020 projects, where the focus for the final three years to 2020 will be on industrial symbiosis and retrofitting technologies.
Gerdi Breembroek of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, provided the audience with a clear overview of current CCUS activities in the Netherlands. The Dutch government is developing a roadmap for CCUS and this is expected to be ready by late 2017.
The scientific programme of the first day included an introduction to the European funded Horizon 2020 projects, STEPWISE, coordinated by ECN and FReSMe, coordinated by Carbon Recycling International, with ECN as partner. Paul Cobden, Senior Researcher at ECN gave an technical overview of both projects. The STEPWISE project will develop a pilot-scale CO2 capture installation at a blast furnace, using ECN’s Sorption Enhanced Water-Gas Shift (SEWGS) technology to efficiently removed CO2 from blast furnace gas. This configuration can facilitate an 85% removal of the in CO2 emissions from the blast furnace, and results in a H2-rich product gas which can be used for multiple energy applications.
FResME is a follow-up project to STEPWISE, demonstrating emissions-to-Liquids technology in a Swedish steel manufacturing plant, demonstrating how residual blast furnace gases can be turned into liquid fuel. Capturing and utilizing surplus energy and CO2 in a the conversion process developed by CRI will recycle greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methanol, a versatile chemical commodity and increasingly used as liquid fuel for cars and ships. The FReSMe project will leverage infrastructure from the STEPWISE research project. Part of the engineering works for the demonstration activities of FResME is provided by Dutch engineering firm, Array Industries, of which CEO Rob Ernst provided an overview of the company’s activities in a separate presentation.
The audience were also given an overview and update of Tata Steel’s HIsarna pilot plant, presented by Mr Jan van der Stel, Knowledge Group Manager Ironmaking at Tata Steel. HIsarna is a new steelmaking process in which iron ore is processed almost directly into hot metal product, removing the need for sintering or the production of coke. The HIsarna process uses approximately 20% less energy and emits 20% less CO2 per ton of steel compared to conventional blast furnace production routes. Furthermore, the off-gas of the HIsarna vessel is rich in CO2, and could therefore be relatively efficiently captured and stored geologically (CCS), or be used in CO2 re-use projects. Combining HIsarna with CCS could reduce the CO2 emissions associated with primary steel production by 80%.
After the afternoon presentation session on the 1st day, the conference participants traveled by bus to the Tata Steel production facilities in IJmuiden. This integrated steel mill is spread over 750 hectares, providing employment to 9,000 people, who are together responsible for producing 7 million tonnes of steel products per year. This location is also home to the new HIsarna pilot plant which is currently under construction. The participants were given an excellent guided tour of the entire site (by bus), and a detailed explanation of the HIsarna pilot plant.
The second day was opened by Aart van der Pal, Chief Operating Officer at ECN, who gave a short presentation on the vision and capabilities of ECN.
After which, the focus turned back to technical developments in the steel industry, looking at efforts taking place in South Korea at the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology on CO2 capture from blast furnaces.
Back in Europe, Eric de Coninck of ArcelorMittal presented on the 'Steelanol' project, an €87 million flagship pilot project to convert waste gases from a blast furnace to ethanol through a bio reactor. This second generation biofuel can be mixed with conventional gasoline to produce a low carbon transport fuel.
Staying with the subject of transportation fuels, Bendedikt Stefansson of Carbon Recycling International based in Iceland, explained how CO2 captured from a geothermal power plant and hydrogen (produced from renewable electricity) can be converted to ‘renewable methanol’. The produced methanol can be mixed with conventional gasoline or biodiesel to reduce the environmental footprint of this fuel.
One of the final scientific presentations was given by Magnus Lunqvist, Researcher at Swerea MEFOS. Swerea MEFOS is a Swedish research institute which offers testing and development services for minimizing costs and environmental impacts of steel and metal production processes. Their facilities in Sweden are able to model any blast furnace configuration, and they are able to test blast furnace gas cleaning equipment. The site also hosts the pilot testing equipment demonstrated in the STEPWISE project.
The event closed with an interactive panel discussion, moderated by Guido Magneschi, CO2 Capture Advisor at EMEA Global CCS Institute. Panelists addressed questions relating to the role of CCS and CCU in the steel industry, including expected deployment rates and suitable approaches to government policy in stimulating the uptake of such technology by the steel industry. The audience were able to give their opinion too, participating through the use of a web app accessible via mobile phone.
The CATO and ECN team look back on an interesting and timely event and would like to thank all the presenters and participants for making it a success.