$1bn boost for green steel production in Mississippi and Ohio

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has confirmed $1bn in funding via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to advance the green steel industry in Mississippi and Ohio.

The DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations has unveiled initial award negotiations for the “first hydrogen-ready” iron-making facilities in the US. Negotiations for up to $500m in funding for two projects have now begun.

SSAB will develop a green hydrogen direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in Perry County, Mississippi, in collaboration with Hy Stor Energy and HYBRIT. Whilst Cleveland Cliffs has been selected to convert its blast furnace in Middletown, Ohio, to a hydrogen DRI plant.

The projects have been selected as part of the DOE’s Industrial Demonstrations Programme Selections for Award Negotiations: Aluminum and Metals. An additional $75m will be awarded to Constellium to install SmartMelt furnaces that are capable of operating on hydrogen.

The Mississippi plant will use green hydrogen from Hy Stor Energy and utilise HYBRIT technology. The DRI will send green iron to SSAB’s existing electric arc furnace in Iowa to produce green steel.

It’s expected to be the “first commercial-scale” facility using green hydrogen technology, signifying a step forward in “fostering healthier communities and creating future-proof jobs,” according to Hilary Lewis, Steel Director at Industrious Labs.

SSAB Americas’ President, Chuck Schmitt, added “We see great interest in sustainable products from the market and this project offers a critical opportunity to solidify a first-mover advantage for the US industry.”

The additional $500m will go towards a hydrogen DRI project set to replace the coal-based blast furnace at Middletown Works. Steel production capacity of approximately three million tonnes per year will be maintained using the 2.5mtpa hydrogen DRI plant and two 120MW electric melting furnaces to feed molten iron to the existing infrastructure.

Middletown Works is understood to be the highest emitter of particulate matter out of Ohio’s 213 industrial facilities (excluding power plants), releasing 1,872 tonnes of NOx.

The facility was scheduled to receive a maintenance investment worth $300m to extend its reliance on coal, however local and national advocates urged Cleveland-Cliffs to invest in alternative steelmaking.

Donna Ballinger, a Middletown resident said, “I live less than 1,000 feet from the coal-based Middletown Works steelmaking facility, and every day I breathe in its toxic soup of pollution.

“By replacing the blast furnace with DRI technology powered by hydrogen produced with renewable energy, we can bring cleaner air to my family and community, while safeguarding local jobs.”

The projects are expected to retain 2,500 existing union jobs and create another 7,200 construction jobs and 710 permanent jobs across the two states.

Constellium’s project in Ravenswood, West Virginia, aims to deploy a “first-of-its-kind zero carbon aluminium casting plant. The aluminium rolling facility supplies material to the aerospace, defence, marine and transportation sectors.

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