Direct reduction: Test facility for more climate-friendly steel planned

Research into more climate-friendly steel production using hydrogen will soon begin on the steel manufacturer Thyssenkrupp Steel's site in Duisburg.

Direct reduction: Test facility for more climate-friendly steel planned

Research into more climate-friendly steel production using hydrogen will soon begin on the steel manufacturer Thyssenkrupp Steel's site in Duisburg. For this purpose, a 40-meter-high test facility will be built, as Germany's largest steel company announced.

The project is intended to advance research into the direct reduction of iron ore, it said. Thyssenkrupp wants to incorporate the research results into the construction of its first direct reduction plant on an industrial scale. For comparison: This will reach a height of 140 meters.

During direct reduction, a gas removes the oxygen from the iron ore - and no longer coal and coke as in a classic blast furnace. If natural gas is used, significantly less climate-damaging carbon dioxide is produced than when producing pig iron in a blast furnace. If hydrogen is used, even more carbon dioxide can be avoided.

Findings on CO2 savings

Several direct reduction processes are to be researched in the test facility. Reducing gases such as hydrogen, natural gas and mixed gases produced during steel production should be used. Various input materials such as pellets or lump ore should also be used. The test facility should be able to produce 100 kilograms of directly reduced iron per hour. The experts hope, among other things, to gain insights into CO2 savings, product quality and system safety.

The test facility costs ten million euros. It is part of the H2Stahl project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics. The plant is operated by the operations research institute of the Association of German Ironworkers (VDEh). It is scheduled to be put into operation at the beginning of 2026. It is being built by a plant manufacturer from Düren.

New direct reduction plant in operation in 2027

Thyssenkrupp plans to put the billion-dollar new industrial-scale direct reduction plant into operation in 2027. Initially it will run on natural gas. Construction has already started. According to previous information, the first use of hydrogen is planned for 2028, and the ramp-up to full hydrogen operation should be completed in 2029.

The steel produced is also referred to as “green” steel because this new production method produces less carbon dioxide than the classic blast furnace process. Other steel companies also want to use such processes to produce their steel in a more climate-friendly way in the future.

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