SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have commenced construction of a rock cavern storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas next to their pilot HYBRIT facility for direct reduction in Luleå, Sweden.
Announcing the news today (7th April), construction of the 100 cubic metre hydrogen storage facility in Svartöberget is set to help with the demands of the steelmaking process by developing the technology for hydrogen storage.
Uniquely, the hydrogen storage is being built in an enclosed rock cavern approximately 30 metres below ground and will be achieved through a technique called LRC (Lined Rock Cavern) which means that the walls of the cavern will be covered with a carefully selected material as a sealing layer.
Building the storage facility in an underground enclosure provides opportunities to ensure the pressure required to store large amounts of energy in the form of hydrogen in a cost-effective way.
The technology that will be used is adapted to Scandinavian bedrock conditions and will be developed further to handle the storage of hydrogen.
Read more: ABB to supply technology to HYBRIT
The storage facility is based on proven technology and the hydrogen will be used in the plant’s direct reduction reactor to remove oxygen from iron ore pellets. The fossil-free sponge iron resulting from the process is then used as a raw material in the manufacture of fossil-free steel.
Andreas Regnell, Head of Strategy at Vattenfall and Chairman of the Board at HYBRIT, said, “We’re really pleased that HYBRIT is continuing to lead the development of efficient production for fossil-free steel, as we’re now also building a pilot storage facility for large-scale fossil-free hydrogen in Luleå.”
“Storage provides the opportunity to vary demand for electricity and stabilise the energy system by producing hydrogen when there’s a lot of electricity, for example in windy conditions, and to use stored hydrogen when the electricity system is under strain.”
The steel plant facility is the world’s first fossil-free iteration and utilises HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) to reduce the CO2 emissions in steelmaking process by replacing coal with hydrogen.
With SSAB hoping to be able to produce the first fossil-free steel from 2026 and, by 2035, the goal is to sell fossil-free steel on a broad front.
The storage facility is expected to be ready and operational from 2022 until 2024.
It is expected that the HYBRIT project alone could reduce Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10% and Finland’s by 7%, respectively.