steel furnace

Fossil fuel-free steel manufactured and sold for the first time

Swedish firm Hybrit has sold the world’s first steel that has been manufactured entirely without the use of fossil fuels.

According to McKinsey, the steel industry accounts for around 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so a carbon-free product could go a long way to helping nations reach net-zero carbon by 2050, as laid out in the Paris Agreement.

Hybrit said its “carbon-free” steel was produced using hydrogen made from green sources instead of the coal and coke used in the traditional process.

To avoid using fossil fuels, green hydrogen is produced by splitting water using electrolysis, while the vast majority of hydrogen currently being produced today splits natural gas – a process that is not carbon free.

Hybrit's first sale of its green steel was to the Volvo Group, which said in April that it would start production this year of prototype vehicles and components made using the steel.

While it has started with small orders thus far, Hybrit said its goal was to deliver fossil fuel-free steel to the market and demonstrate the technology on an industrial scale as early as 2026. It said its technology alone had the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by approximately ten per cent and Finland’s by approximately seven per cent.

“The first fossil-free steel in the world is not only a breakthrough for SSAB, it represents proof that it’s possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry. We hope that this will inspire others to also want to speed up the green transition,” said Martin Lindqvist, CEO of Swedish steel producers SSAB.

Earlier this year, a think tank urged the UK Government to accelerate investment in reducing carbon emissions from the steel industry in order to support the Covid-19 recovery while tackling climate change.

A UN report recently found that China has committed to a series of carbon-intensive projects in the first half of 2021, including steel and coal projects, as it tries to lift its own economy out the damage inflicted by the pandemic.

“By industrialising this technology in the future and making the transition to the production of sponge iron on an industrial scale, we will enable the steel industry to make the transition. This is the greatest thing we can do together for the climate,” said Jan Moström, CEO of mining firm LKAB.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles