Japan’s Kobe Steel (Kobelco) is planning to work with Brazilian mining firm Vale and Japanese trading company Mitsui to market its Midrex direct-reduction iron (DRI) technology, in a push to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the global steelmaking industry.
Kobelco and its wholly-owned US subsidiary Midrex Technologies have reached a non-binding agreement with Vale and Mitsui to discuss the possibility of jointly marketing the Midrex DRI technology and iron-based metallics as an alternative steelmaking feedstock to iron ore and scrap.
Kobelco sees an opportunity to meet demand from the global steel industry to reduce CO2 emissions by promoting the technology, which uses natural gas or gas derived from coal to produce DRI and hot-briquetted iron (HBI) and generates less CO2 than the blast-furnace-based steelmaking process. Iron-based metallics, such as DRI and HBI, are mostly used in basic oxygen furnaces at blast furnace-based steel mills as a low-cost alternative to iron ore and scrap.
The world’s biggest steel producer, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, last year commissioned Midrex to design a 100,000 t/yr demonstration DRI production plant in Hamburg using hydrogen as a reductant as part of its CO2 reduction efforts. The plant will be powered initially with hydrogen sourced from natural gas but is targeted to eventually use hydrogen from renewable energy sources, such as wind power.
Japan’s steel industry is also working to curb CO2 emissions from its manufacturing process. Industry group the Japan iron and steel federation in 2018 drafted a long-term vision to develop technology to achieve zero-carbon steel production. Under the initiative, Japan’s steel producers are targeting to cut CO2 emissions by 30pc by 2050 through the use of hydrogen-based steelmaking and carbon capture technologies.