Pipelines installed in project to decarbonise steelmaking

Hydrogen pipelines are being installed at the Materials Processing Institute as the initial £270,000 phase of a multi-million project to decarbonise steelmaking.

H2DRI aims to decarbonise steelmaking
H2DRI aims to decarbonise steelmaking - Materials Processing Institute

Commercial Maintenance Services UK Ltd (CMS) is currently installing the infrastructure as part of the development of a proposed permanent national pilot distribution and production facility at MPI’s Teesside campus.

In a statement, Nigel Riley, senior project manager at CMS, said: “Our engineers are highly experienced at working across a range of sectors, including industrial, defence, commercial, and public sector, but this is one of the most far-reaching projects to date, given it has the potential to transform the steel industry and cut harmful emissions.”

Dubbed H2DRI, the initial part of the project will focus on how production can be scaled up and will build practical and scientific understanding on how best to deliver economically and environmentally sustainable green steelmaking.

Part of the government’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio Industrial Fuel Switching Competition, the project is led by MPI in partnership with electrical technology developers C-Tech Innovation, Teesside University, the Steel and Metals Institute at Swansea University, and Rio Tinto.

The use of carbon-free ‘green’ hydrogen could transform the steel industry by replacing coke and other fossil fuels currently used to power furnaces and convert iron ore to iron metal.

Hydrogen will be used to fuel three phases of the steel making process, namely converting iron ores into metal, which is then melted electrically to make molten steel; pre-heating a seven-tonne capacity ladle to receive the molten steel, and later providing the high temperature flames needed to reheat slabs of metal before forming them into finished products.

“It’s exciting to see work progressing on the H2DRI project and in creating a pilot production facility that will be pivotal into proving hydrogen is the answer to decarbonising steel production on an industrial scale,” said Chris McDonald, chief executive of the Materials Processing Institute. “Our new hydrogen infrastructure also opens the door to all sorts of other innovation scale-ups on Teesside.”

CMS undertook the design, manufacture and installation of the pipework, which is intended to cope with the high pressures associated with hydrogen. In addition, all welds have been x-rayed as part of a non-destructive testing process to rule out weaknesses. Following its installation over and underground, it is attached to a manifold and controls system before the hydrogen can be fed into several buildings, facilities and processes within the campus.

H2DRI was announced in June 2022. Commentating on the launch, Mark Allan, MPI’s group manager for Industrial Decarbonisation, said: “While the principle of using green hydrogen in steelmaking is already proven, the UK is in the starting blocks in the race to produce green steel or to play a meaningful part in global innovation in this area. This project lets us work together to get the best technologies to commercial scale quicker and make a meaningful contribution in the fight against climate change.”

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