Calix Limited has completed a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study on a hydrogen direct reduced iron (H-DRI) demonstration plant in Australia.
The 30,000 tonne per annum Zero Emissions Steel Technology (ZESTY) H-DRI plant is estimated to produce near-zero emissions hot briquetted iron (HBI) from low grade iron ore for AUD$630-800 ($410-521) per tonne, according to the FEED study.
ZESTY is expected to reduce the emissions intensity of iron ore to metal iron from 1.89 tonnes of CO2 to almost zero, a significant drop as the current reduction process accounts for 80-85% of the steel industry’s emissions.
Supported via funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, a final investment decision (FID) on the facility is being progressed a subject to plant location and commercial agreements that are currently under negotiation.
Will DRI be key to producing sustainable steel?
Steel production accounts for 8% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, making it one of the most polluting industries. With around 1.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions per tonne of steel produced, against a backdrop of increasing environmental concerns, the need to clean up the process that produces a vitally important material only continues to grow.
Steel, in the most basic sense, is made by mixing carbon and iron at temperatures above 1,400˚C. Primary steelmaking uses a product dubbed Pig Iron – smelted iron from ore, which contains more carbon than needed for steel.
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The anticipated price of AUD$630-800 per tonne of iron using the ZESTY demonstration scale includes the capital cost of the plant and the processing cost, not the cost of land or the cost of transport of input and output materials.
This estimated cost is close to the range of existing conventional HBI processing costs, despite hydrogen being used as a reductant. The study assumed an effective levelised cost of hydrogen of AUD$5.5-6.2 per kg, based on electrolyser CAPEX and electricity costs.
The total energy requirement of the ZESTY process is projected to be 4.2-4.6MWh per tonne of iron, including the requirements to produce hydrogen. The plant’s energy requirement excluding hydrogen production is forecasted to be 0.9-1.3MWh per tonne.
Calix also expects ZESTY to provide a versatile load balancing service to the energy grid, due to its potential to match its energy use to the grid’s requirements across a wide range.
Elsewhere, the European Commission announced it would back a six-year research project with €88m ($92.7m) of funding to develop an Italian pilot steel production plant using hydrogen.
Led by RINA, funded by the NextGenerationEu project, and backed by the Italian Ministry of Enterprises, as part of the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) scheme, Hydra is aiming to make hydrogen an accessible, low-carbon alternative for steelmakers.
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