Germany's second-largest steel group, Salzgitter, has debuted a new industrial process using wind power and hydrogen to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions in their traditionally CO2-heavy business.
Salzgitter boss Heinz Joerg Fuhrmann presented the new scheme - described as the first of its kind - at an event in Salzgitter in central Germany on Thursday, attended by federal and local officials, as well as representatives of partners Eon/Avacon, Linde and Siemens.
In the new process, electricity from wind turbines will drive on-site electrolyzer units that produce pure hydrogen. The hydrogen will then replace the carbon necessary for smelting iron ore.
The project, named "Wind H2," was "an important step on the path to decarbonizing the steel industry," the firm said.
The cost of the project – including building the wind turbines and the hydrogen plants, and integrating them into the supply network – comes to around 50 million euros (60 million dollars). The construction of the electrolyzer was subsidized by the German state development bank KfW.
By 2050, Salzgitter wants to have completely converted from conventional coal-based steel production to hydrogen-based production.
This should reduce CO2 emissions in production by up to 95 percent. "Direct reduction is the most ecologically sensible and efficient CO2 avoidance route, at least here in Europe," Fuhrmann said.
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