Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The world’s first fossil-free steel delivered to Volvo

The Swedish steel manufacturer SSAB claims to have produced the world’s first fossil-free steel, created with green hydrogen instead of coal and coke. The company has already delivered it to its customer, the Volvo Group, where it will be used in electric trucks.

The deliveries of “green steel” to truckmaker Volvo are currently just a trial run ahead of the start of mass commercial production, which is scheduled for 2026. Volvo said it would start production of prototype vehicles this year and components comprising green steel.

SSAB says the trial delivery is an important step on the way to a completely fossil-free value chain for iron- and steelmaking and a milestone in the HYBRIT partnership between SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall.

Coal-based steel production accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To deal with this issue, HYBRIT started testing the process for making fossil-free steel a year ago at its plant in Lulea, northern Sweden. The company aims to replace the coking coal, traditionally needed for the production of ore-based steel, with fossil-free, renewable electricity and hydrogen.

The first object from a piece of the world’s first fossil-free steel.
The first object from a piece of the world’s first fossil-free steel. Credit: SSAB

SSAB’s HYBRIT process uses hydrogen as the reductant as iron ore and limestone are combined to create steel instead of coking coal. The company also replaces the traditional coal-fired blast furnace with an electric arc furnace for the smelting process. The hydrogen electrolyzers and the arc furnaces are only run on “fossil-free” renewable energy, and the iron ore used in the process comes from “fossil-free” mining operations.

The goal is to deliver fossil-free steel to the market and demonstrate the technology on an industrial scale as early as 2026. The company is aiming to have its entire business “fossil-free” by 2045. Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB expects to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 10% and 7% of those produced in Finland.

Another company interested in developing green steel production technologies is ArcelorMittal, which plans to build a full-scale zero carbon-emissions steel plant in Sestao, Spain.