ArcelorMittal to trial carbon capture technology at Belgium steel plant

Steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal has announced a new collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, global resources company, BHP and Mitsubishi Development Pty g on a multi-year trial of carbon capture (CCUS) technology.

ArcelorMittal to trial carbon capture technology at Belgium steel plant

The company will trial CCUS technology at its steel plant in Gent, Belgium and an undisclosed facility in North America.

The multi-year trial will act as a “Steelanol” demonstration project to capture carbon-based process gases from blast furnaces to convert them into ethanol.

The first phase of the project will separate and capture CO2 top gas from furnaces at a rate of 300kg of CO2 per day. The second phase will then see the companies test how off-gases in a hot strip mill reheating furnace, which burns a mixture of industrial gases including coke gas, blast furnace gases and natural gas, can be separated and captured.

The companies will also conduct a feasibility and design study to support progress to full-scale deployment.

ArcelorMittal Belgium’s chief executive, Manfred Van Vlierberghe, said: “Alongside our continued energy efficiency improvements, we are developing two routes to decarbonise steelmaking: Smart Carbon and Innovative-DRI. Both routes will contribute in our journey to deliver carbon-neutral steelmaking.

“The Smart Carbon route also allows us to integrate carbon capture and re-use (CCU) or storage (CCS) technologies, capturing carbon emitted during the steelmaking process. We are therefore proud to be working with BHP, Mitsubishi Development and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering on this pioneering Carbon Capturing pilot project, in ArcelorMittal Gent.”

Net-zero push

Steel is a notoriously high-emission material and a hard-to-abate sector. More than 90% of metal produced in the world is steel, and the sector is accountable for around 7% of global emissions from fuel use. Researchers believe that a combination of electrification, energy storage, alternative fuels and circular economy innovations are needed to align the sector with net-zero. Carbon capture and offsetting are also being explored by some producers.

CCUS is viewed as a crucial technology for carbon-intensive industries like steel. Indeed the International Energy Agency claims that CCUS will need to be utilised by 53% of steel production by 2050 under a net-zero scenario.

Last year, ArcelorMittal announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030 as part of a wider net-zero ambition for 2050, with the new target set to be back by a $10bn investment into low-carbon and circular solutions.

ArcelorMittal unveiled an ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 back in September 2020. The company has this week set a new interim goal to reduce its carbon emissions intensity by 25% by 2030 for scope 1 and 2 emissions globally. A European-wide target of a 30% emissions reduction has also been increased to 35%.

The company estimates that reaching these goals will require an investment of around $10bn in capital expenditure, with 35% of the funding to be delivered by 2025. ArcelorMittal believes that the steel industry will “undergo a transformation of the assets used to make steel on a scale not seen for over 100 years”.

ArcelorMittal notes that different regions of the world will decarbonise at different paces based on policy and finance and has labelled each region where it operates as either ‘Accelerate’ – a region where decarbonise can happen more quickly due to an enabling environment – or ‘Move’ – a region where they have to push for changes through engagement with suppliers and policymakers. Europe, for example, is expected to be a leading market for CCUS infrastructure.

ArcelorMittal will continue to invest in “Torero” and “Carbalyst” – two technologies to enable the use of circular carbon. Torero is a torrefaction process for bioenergy, while Carbalyst enables waste gases from steelmaking to be used in bioethanol.

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