Tenova to supply DRI technology to Italian hydrogen-based steel project

Tenova is set to supply a 30m direct reduction iron (DRI) tower and electric arc furnace (EAF) to an EU-backed Italian project looking to produce steel using 100% hydrogen.

Set to be supplied to RINA’s Hydra project, which was backed with €88m of NextGenerationEU funding last October (2023), the tower will utilise DRI technology jointly developed by Tenova and Danieli.

The ENERGIRON® DRI technology is also expected to be installed at Nippon Steel Corporation’s Hasaki R&D centre in Japan.

By 2025, the DRI plant and EAF is expected to produce up to seven tonnes of steel per hour at full production capacity, allowing European steelmakers to experiment with various combinations of natural gas and hydrogen.

Roberto Pancaldi, CEO of Tenova, said the project would enable “all” European steelmakers to test the DRI process and “drive their future investments to drastically reduce their emissions.

Read more:The Italian open-platform for hydrogen-produced steel

The DRI process uses feedstocks such as coal or natural gas, to react with oxygen in iron ore to produce reduced iron which can then be processed into steel. The reducing agents used in the DRI process are hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are derived from reformed natural gas, syngas, or coal.

By using green hydrogen in the process, steelmakers to reduce CO2 emissions by over 95%.

Carlo Luzzatto, CEO and General Manager at RINA, said the new plant would emit just a “marginal fraction” of the CO2 emissions released by the world steel industry.

Will DRI be key to producing sustainable steel?

Steel production accounts for 8% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions1, making it one of the most polluting industries. With around 1.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions per tonne of steel produced2, 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.

Steelmakers can use a system that bubbles oxygen through molten pig iron, creating equal oxidisation throughout the metal, in doing so, removing excess carbon, while also vaporising or binding impurities made up of elements such as silicon, phosphorus and manganese.

The systems, known as blast furnace-basic oxygen furnaces (BF-BOF), are one of the leading contributors to CO2 emissions from steelmaking. The direct emissions from integrated BOF plants typically amount to 1.8-3.0 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel when coal-fired, and 0.7-1.2 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel if gas-fired3.

However, a system first industrialised in the 1960s that uses fuels to react with oxygen in iron oxide pellets to produce highly metallised reduced iron for steelmaking, looks set to benefit from green hydrogen, leaving just steam as the residual, and potentially reducing CO2 emissions by over 95% – the direct reduction of iron – DRI…

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