Hydrogen-based steel making heading to France

Hydrogen-based steel making could be coming to France following an agreement between Paul Wurth, Stahl-Holding-Saar and GFG Alliance member Liberty Steel to assess the establishment of an industrial scale facility.

Hydrogen-based steel making
ALVANCE Aluminium Dunkerque (Image: GFG Alliance)

A Memorandum of Understanding will see the companies evaluate the building and operation of a hydrogen-based steel making plant in Dunkirk, making it one of the first operations of its type in France.

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The partnership will incorporate a two million tonne Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) plant, with an integrated 1GW capacity hydrogen electrolysis production unit, next to GFG’s ALVANCE Aluminium Dunkerque site.

The DRI plant will initially use a mix of hydrogen and natural gas as the reductant to produce DRI and hot-briquetted iron (HBI), before switching to hydrogen when the electrolysis production unit is complete. The DRI/HBI produced will primarily be used in the electric arc furnace of Liberty Ascoval in France but any surplus will be used at Liberty’s Ostrava and Galati integrated steelworks as well as the SHS-group’s Dillinger and Saarstahl plants in Germany,

Liberty has been working with Paul Wurth and SHS on the technical and economic viability of the project since early last year. The MoU moves the project forward in two phases.

According to Liberty Steel, phase 1, which takes over 12 weeks, will improve the accuracy of the project’s commercial and technical feasibility including the reducing gas mix, potential partners (energy supply, hydrogen production and operation, DRI/HBI equipment) and funding opportunities. Phase 2 will then deliver the level of technical and financial detail required to implement the project.

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of GFG Alliance and Liberty Steel Group, said: “Our industry needs to reinvent steel production fast, as the need to cut our emissions gets ever more pressing against a backdrop of rising global demand for our products and legislative pressure to become carbon neutral.

“Hydrogen steel making has the potential to solve this issue and we’re determined to collaborate with like-minded partners to make it happen. France is the ideal place to try, thanks to its strong industrial heritage, skilled workforce and low carbon energy infrastructure.

“Together with these technologically advanced and committed partners we are looking forward to exploring the potential for truly carbon neutral steel making, using green hydrogen to help us make Greensteel products.”