The European Union has agreed to contribute 7.4 million Euros towards Tata Steel’s and Rio Tinto’s Hlsarna project, which starts a six-month test campaign next year at Tata’s Ijmuiden steelworks in the Netherlands.
Next year’s test will establish whether the new technology can produce molten iron in a stable way over a sustained period of time. The EU’s support represents nearly a third of the 25 million euro test costs.
According to Tata Steel, if the technology is viable and can be scaled up successfully, it would enable further resource efficiency improvements in steelmaking. “Steel companies would be able to use a wider range of raw materials, including recycling materials, and the technology would lead to 20% lower CO2 emissions. If successful, HIsarna technology could deliver greater environmental and economic sustainability 10 to 15 years from now,” said the company.
Karl Koehler, CEO of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “We welcome the European Union’s support for this promising and potentially ground-breaking project. The development of this technology still has a long way to go, so support from the EU is vital.”
HIsarna technology eliminates two energy-intensive preparatory stages in iron making. There is no need to cluster fine iron ore into sinter or pellet or to convert coal into coke, as there is in conventional blast furnace iron making.
Koehler said that the steel industry was an integral part of the circular economy, striving for zero waste, 100% recycling and the re-use of materials. “Hisarna could play a future role in the creation of a more sustainable low-carbon European economy,” he added, explaining how Tata Steel and its partners had continued to invest in what he called ‘breakthrough technology’ despite some challenging economic conditions.
Future phases of HIsarna’s development, he said, will require substantial investment and for this reason the project will rely upon the EU’s continued, long-term support.
“If next year’s tests are successful, the following stage would be developing, constructing and testing an industrial-scale plant at a cost of 300 million euros,” Koehler said.
Next year’s test campaign is the fifth series of tests since the pilot plant was built in 2010. Tata Steel and its project partners aim to prove the facility can produce liquid iron for sustained periods. The previous four campaigns each lasted about two months, during which iron was produced for a maximum of three days.
Another key objective is to establish HIsarna’s potential CO2 savings. There will also be tests using various types of raw materials, scrap and by-products from the steelmaking process.
The EU’s support is part of its Horizon 2020 SILC-II programme. If HIsarna becomes commercially available on an industrial scale, steel producers could lower manufacturing costs, reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions and take resource efficiency to the next level, according to Tata Steel. HIsarna reduces fine particle dust and dioxins emissions, in addition to nitrogen and sulphur oxides.
The HIsarna project is a Tata Steel and Rio Tinto initiative, with close co-operation from European steel producers ArcelorMittal, ThyssenKrupp and Voestalpine and technology supplier Paul Würth.