Hydrogen metallurgy becomes a new outlet for the iron and steel industry

 A few days ago, the steel industry low-carbon development and hydrogen metallurgy application technology summit forum was held in Beijing. The participating experts, scholars, and business representatives of the iron and steel industry believed that the low-carbon development of the iron and steel industry must pass the technological barrier, and hydrogen metallurgy has become the commanding heights that leading steel companies are determined to achieve.

   The iron and steel industry shoulders an important mission in leading the global green and low-carbon development and coping with climate change. In the past 30 years, the global steel industry has reduced the overall energy consumption per ton of steel by 50% by improving energy efficiency and promoting the application of "recycling new processes and new technologies." At present, the "energy consumption" of the global steel industry accounts for about 8% of the world's total, and carbon emissions account for 7% of the world's total.

"As'carbon peaking and carbon neutrality' have become the main theme of global industrial development, the traditional development method of the steel industry has not adapted to the needs of low-carbon development and must undergo in-depth changes." Yu Yu, chairman of the World Steel Association and chairman of the HBIS Group Yong said that it is necessary to fundamentally solve the bottleneck problem in the green and low-carbon development of the steel industry through innovation in energy structure, process structure and material technology.

  Yu Yong said that hydrogen energy is the clean energy with the most development potential in the 21st century. Facing the future, whether it is energy structure innovation or process structure innovation in the steel industry, hydrogen energy application is the best way to achieve low-carbon or even "zero-carbon" emissions. In particular, the innovation and application of hydrogen metallurgical technology will bring about revolutionary changes in traditional iron and steel metallurgical technology, freeing steel production from the absolute dependence on fossil energy and solving carbon emissions from the source.

"Doing our best to research and develop low-carbon metallurgical technology has become an important development direction recognized by the world steel industry." He Wenbo, secretary of the party committee and executive chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association, said that in recent years, major steel producing countries in the world have been doing this. Unremitting efforts and continuous investment. The COOLSTAR project in South Korea, the COURSE50 low-carbon steelmaking project of the Japan Iron and Steel Union, and the ULCOS plan of the European Union Steel Technical Committee all point to carbon emission reduction, and each shows its abilities.

   my country is the world’s largest steel producer, and the task of low-carbon development is urgent and arduous. In 2020, my country's crude steel output will be 1.053 billion tons, accounting for more than 50% of global output. The steel industry is also a major carbon emitter in the manufacturing industry, and its carbon dioxide emissions account for about 15% of the country's total emissions.

In the context of my country’s commitment to “strive to reach the peak of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060”, traditional smelting processes based on carbon metallurgy are no longer able to adapt to future development trends, and the development of the steel industry is facing huge challenges . Yang Renshu, president of the University of Science and Technology Beijing, called on China's steel industry to "grow new opportunities amidst crises and create new opportunities amidst changes."

   Since the beginning of this year, industry leaders China Baowu, Hegang Group, and Anshan Iron and Steel Group have successively issued carbon emission reduction targets and timetables.

As one of the world's largest steel material manufacturing and comprehensive service providers, HBIS Group released the "Low-Carbon Green Development Action Plan" in March 2021: release a low-carbon metallurgy roadmap in 2021; achieve carbon peak in 2022; 2025 Carbon emissions will be reduced by more than 10% from the peak; in 2030, carbon emissions will be reduced by more than 30% from the peak; and carbon neutral will be achieved by 2050. With this as a guide, HBIS is accelerating the realization of low-carbon transformation through six major paths, including the promotion of carbon emission reduction in the whole process, the construction of a diversified energy structure system, and the provision of green and low-carbon steel materials.

   In May 2021, HBIS Group started the construction of "the world's first hydrogen-rich gas direct reduction demonstration project" in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, starting from changing the energy structure and promoting the transformation of iron and steel metallurgical processes. “At present, the 600,000-ton hydrogen-rich reduction project of HBIS has been put into construction. At the same time, HBIS plans to build hydrogen metallurgical projects with a total annual output of 3 million tons in Xuanhua, Tangshan, Handan and other places.” HBIS Group Low-Carbon Green Development Research Tian Jinglei, the chief researcher of the center, said that HBIS will make every effort to build a global hydrogen energy reduction and utilization technology research and development center to lead the world's low-carbon metallurgical revolution.

  According to the relevant plan of China Baowu, a low-carbon metallurgical roadmap will be released in 2021, and by 2025, it will have the ability to reduce carbon by 30%. "R&D and application of hydrogen-based shaft furnace direct reduction process to produce sponge iron-powered steelmaking. Expand short-process low-carbon steel smelting capacity and greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions per ton of steel. This is the development focus of hydrogen metallurgy." China Baowu Xu Wanren, a professor-level senior engineer of the Academia Sinica, said when introducing the technical route of Baowu hydrogen metallurgy.

It is reported that in the third quarter of this year, China Baowu will start the construction (phase one) of a million-ton-level hydrogen-based shaft furnace direct reduction demonstration project and supporting facilities with full hydrogen process test conditions in Zhanjiang Iron and Steel, which can be used flexibly in different proportions. Coke oven gas, natural gas and hydrogen. The second phase of Zhanjiang plans to build a million-ton-level hydrogen-based shaft furnace project. In the future, renewable energy power generation-green hydrogen produced by high-efficiency water electrolysis will be gradually adopted. The goal is to reach 80% to 90% of hydrogen.

   At present, China's steel industry is seeking a low-carbon transformation, and it is obvious that it is accelerating research and development and stockpiling of major technologies. Not only are leading companies actively taking the lead, a number of steel companies such as Shougang, Jianlong, Jiugang, and Rizhao Iron and Steel have also established low-carbon metallurgical demonstration projects; University of Science and Technology Beijing has established a carbon dioxide science research center, and Northeastern University has established a low-carbon steel frontier Technology Research Institute, HBIS Group and Beijing University of Science and Technology also jointly launched the World Steel Development Research Institute, and the strength of production, education and research is gathering.

   "For China's steel to be strong and lead the world, it is very important to be able to stand at the forefront of the world's low-carbon metallurgical technology." He Wenbo emphasized that innovation is not easy, but there is no choice.

   Needless to say, the road to low-carbon technology research and development in the steel industry is full of hardships. The low-carbon hydrogen metallurgy and other zero-carbon technologies that this conference focused on, including energy storage technology, CCUS technology, etc., have the characteristics of large R&D investment, long cycle, and high risk. Judging from the practices of related projects abroad, the use of industry cooperation can share risks and results.

   Experts at the meeting believed that aiming at the goal of low-carbon and zero-carbon, it is a wise choice for multiple capable and powerful companies to take action together. At the same time, to seek disruptive and revolutionary technological breakthroughs in the low-carbon field of steel, global steel cooperation is indispensable.

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