The decarbonization of steelmaking is a major challenge for the entire industry and calls for innovative approaches. voestalpine collaborates with both universities and partner entities in order to drive pioneering solutions through R&D work.
In the longer term, hydrogen as a reducing agent is to replace the currently used direct reduction bridge technology based on natural gas. The hydrogen must be produced sustainably, i.e., solely from water using renewable energies. In order to research the technology and its feasibility for the steel industry, the world’s largest hydrogen electrolyzer plant was built and successfully started up in 2019 at the voestalpine Group’s Linz facility in Austria. It is here that tests are conducted to determine whether this technology is suitable for producing green hydrogen on a major industrial scale. The EUR 18 million project, which is supported by the European Union, also explores the potential of making network services available and of balancing fluctuations in the electricity grid.
The groundbreaking SuSteel project serves to conduct research on another direct steelmaking technology using hydrogen plasma. In January 2020, the pilot plant in Donawitz, Austria, succeeded for the first time in carrying out a hydrogen plasma smelting reduction. Current work aims to optimize the facility in order to enable continuous operations and to adjust it to different types of iron ore.