Day 1: Workshop in Ghent
RE4Industry partners attended the workshop “Prospects of biocoal for the metallurgical industry”. A scientific and technological seminar was held in Ghent to discuss the potential use of biomass in the iron and steel sector as a means to substitute coal. Using biochar produced from torrefied biomass presents a promising solution for the industry to reduce its intensive carbon footprint.
Biochar is produced by heating biomass to a high temperature in the absence of oxygen. This process, known as torrefaction, results in a substance that can be used as a renewable fuel source that produces lower emissions than coal. The biochar produced could have the potential to be used in a similar way as coal in a blast furnace, replacing a portion of the fossil fuel. However, R&D is still required.
The iron and steel sector still faces significant challenges in its decarbonisation efforts. The high cost of implementing new technologies, the need for massive investments in research and development, and the lack of supporting infrastructure and policies are just some of the hurdles that must be overcome.
During the seminar, attendees openly discussed the multiple alternatives available to the iron and steel sector to decarbonise its processes, taking into account the latest scientific and technological advances. Through open dialogue and collaboration between industry leaders, policymakers, and researchers, the iron and steel sector can work towards a sustainable future.
Day 2: Field visit at ArcelorMittal Ghent steel mill / Torero and Steelanol units
ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company, has set an ambitious goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050. To achieve this, the company is pursuing a variety of decarbonization initiatives, including renewable energy projects, energy-efficient processes, and the development of new technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
One such project is the Torero project, which aims to produce biochar from torrified biomass. The process involves heating biomass in the absence of oxygen, resulting in a product called torrefied biomass, or biochar. This biochar can be used as a low-carbon fuel, replacing fossil fuels in the steelmaking process. Additionally, the production of biochar can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as the process captures and stores carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. ArcelorMittal plans to use biochar produced from the Torero project in its steel plants, reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
Another project under development by ArcelorMittal is Steelanol, which aims to convert industrial carbon emissions into ethanol. This biobased technology uses carbon monoxide and hydrogen to produce ethanol, which can be used as a low-carbon fuel or feedstock in various industrial processes. This process has the potential to reduce carbon emissions significantly, as it captures and utilizes carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. ArcelorMittal plans to use the Steelanol process to capture and utilize carbon emissions from its steel plants, further reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
While these projects show promising technologies to decarbonize the iron and steel sector, the industrial sector still faces multiple challenges. The transition to a low-carbon economy requires significant investments in new infrastructure and technologies, which can be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, the industrial sector must work closely with other sectors, such as energy and transportation, to develop synergies and create a circular economy that reduces waste and maximizes resource efficiency. Despite these challenges, ArcelorMittal’s commitment to decarbonization and the development of innovative technologies are critical steps towards a sustainable future.