Three HYBRIT pilot projects - towards fossil free iron and steel


SSAB’s, LKAB’s and Vattenfall’s joint initiative HYBRIT aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil free energy and hydrogen. Hybrit pilot project activities have been steadily progressing since summer 2018. Here’s more information about the pilot projects and the plans going forward.

The steel industry is one of the highest CO2-emitting industries, accounting for 7 percent of CO2 emissions globally. A growing global population and an expanding urbanization are expected to trigger arise in global steel demand by 2050. The carbon footprint in the steel industry is thus a challenge for Europe and the rest of the world. Therefore, in 2016, SSAB (global leader in high-strength steels), LKAB (Europe’s largest iron ore producer) and Vattenfall (one of Europe’s largest electricity producers) created HYBRIT. HYBRIT aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil free energy hydrogen. The result will be the world’s first fossil-free steel-making technology, with virtually no carbon footprint. Instead of CO2 emissions the by-product will be water.

After a pre-feasibility study, that was conducted 2016-2017, the owners gave green light for the pilot phase and during summer 2018, work started on the construction of a globally unique pilot plant for fossil free steel production at the SSAB site in Luleå, Sweden. The extensive development program is financed by the Hybrit funding owners SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall with support from the Swedish Energy Agency.

During summer 2019, HYBRIT will also start to build a pilot plant in Malmberget to do tests for production of fossil free pellets. In parallel, trials will be conducted in an experimental facility in Luleå. Testing even more alternatives, such as CO2-free plasma and fuels not yet commercialized. Soon a new pilot project is planned to start in Luleå to support storage of hydrogen which is an important complement to the first pilot plant. 




Pilot project 1 – DRI, hydrogen production and steel in Luleå


An important part in the HYBRIT concept is the unique pilot plant that now is built at SSAB’s plant at Svartön. In the pilot plant we will produce hydrogen and do test on direct reduction of iron (DRI) ore with hydrogen. The main energy source for the HYBRIT concept is fossil free electricity from Vattenfall. This is mainly used for large scale hydrogen production via electrolysis of water and to run the electric arc furnaces. Replacing coal with electricity and hydrogen in the HYBRIT process will require around 15 TWh per year, which equals about one tenth of the Swedish yearly electricity production.






Pilot project 2 – Fossil free pellets project in Malmberget and Luleå 

Fossil free steel production starts at the mine and LKAB is working hard to determine the design of the next generation of pelletizing plants. Therefore, as part of the HYBRIT initiative, experimental trials with alternative fuels and a new heating technology, will take place in an experimental combustion furnace in Luleå and a plant in Malmberget, converted from fossil to renewable bio-fuel heating. Testing a bio-oil system is part of the pilot phase and the objective is to convert one of LKAB's pelletizing plants from fossil fuel to 100-percent-renewable fuel. This means that fossil-generated carbon dioxide emissions from the Malmberget operation will be reduced by up to 40 percent during the test period, which corresponds to about 60,000 tonnes per year. 





Pilot project 3 (planned for construction in 2021) – Hydrogen storage in Luleå

As part of the HYBRIT initiative, HYBRIT is planning to build a hydrogen storage research facility for energy storage. This is an important complement to the DRI-pilot plant that is currently being built on SSAB's industrial area in Luleå - and is necessary to realize the goal of a fossil free iron and steel production. Right now, we are investigating the possibility of building a temporary small pilot storage in connection to the old iron ore storage area at Svartöberget close to SSAB industrial area. When implemented in larger scale, this type of storage will secure ability of hydrogen to the industrial process during all hours of the day. It may also serve as grid balancing through load shifting. This will be an important component to support and stabilize the energy system in the future.