SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, the owners behind the HYBRIT initiative, have announced further investment of SEK 200m ($20.2m) in the project, with the funding going towards the construction of a storage facility for hydrogen at the pilot plant.
SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall joined forces to create HYBRIT in 2016, an initiative that endeavours to revolutionise steelmaking.
HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steelmaking, with hydrogen. The result would be the world’s first fossil-free steel production technology, with virtually no carbon footprint.
If successful, the HYBRIT project alone could reduce Sweden’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 10% and Finland’s by 7%, respectively.
Work started last year (2018) on the construction of a pilot plant for fossil-free steel production in Luleå, Sweden. The goal is to have a solution for fossil-free steel by 2035.
The project has now announced this new tranche of investment, with SEK 150m ($15.1m) from SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall and a further SEK 50m ($5m approx.) from the Swedish Energy Agency.
The plan is to build the new hydrogen gas storage facility 25-35m below the ground surface on LKAB’s land in Svartöberget, close to the pilot plant currently under construction on SSAB’s site in Luleå. The storage facility is expected to operate from 2022 to 2024.
The design is a pressurised hydrogen gas storage facility in a bedrock cavern, with a steel lining as a sealing layer.
“I am very pleased that we, as partners, are step by step developing our joint fossil-free steel project, and the support from the Swedish Energy Agency is important. Now, with the support of the community, we are investing in the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a value chain in which hydrogen gas plays a decisive role in the success of the initiative and the development of competitive fossil-free electricity generation in Sweden,” said Magnus Hall, Vattenfall’s President and CEO.
“Now, with the support of the community, we are investing in the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a value chain in which hydrogen gas plays a decisive role…”
Martin Lindqvist, SSAB’s President and CEO, added, “The HYBRIT initiative gives us the opportunity to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions completely, and to lead the work of developing fossil-free steel products.”
“The investment in a storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas is an important building block in achieving our goal of a fossil-free value chain from ore to finished steel. I am delighted with the support from the Swedish Energy Agency.”
Jan Moström, LKAB’s President and CEO, also reflected, “Hydrogen gas storage is an important issue to solve in order to bring the various elements of HYBRIT together, and we are pleased that we can make use of parts of our former ore port facility for this experiment.”
The pre-feasibility for the HYBRIT initiative showed that large-scale storage of hydrogen gas can play an important role in Sweden’s future energy system.
As well as acting as a buffer to ensure an even flow to the steel production, a large-scale hydrogen gas storage facility would offer a better opportunity to balance the electricity system with a greater proportion of weather-dependent power generation, and enable a competitive production cost for fossil-free steel.
Robert Andrén, Director General of the Swedish Energy Agency, underlined this significance and said of this new investment, “Large, complex and expensive leaps in technology need to be taken for the sake of the climate, to achieve the goal of zero net emissions.”
“Large-scale storage of hydrogen gas will be an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle for a fossil-free value chain for steel manufacturing, but also in a future electricity system with an increasing proportion of weather-dependent power.”