Today, integrated steel mills produce around 1.4 billion metric tons of crude steel annually, accounting for 90 percent of the steel industry's CO2 emissions. To achieve the national climate targets set so far, around 30 million metric tons of crude steel capacity must be converted to a climate-neutral process every year. More than 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused in the primary stage of pig iron production. Due to the long investment cycles for metallurgical plants, a large part of the required CO2 savings must come from the blast furnaces already in operation. It is good to know that there is also great optimization potential for the classic blast furnace route. Simply injecting hydrogen or hot synthesis gases into the blast furnace can reduce the CO2 footprint of pig iron production by a substantial 30 percent. As less coke is used at the same time, this technology even reduces operating costs.
The future of steel production clearly lies in the use of hydrogen. Looking ahead, climate-neutral steel will be produced in a hydrogen-based process that involves direct reduction and steelmaking in electric arc furnaces, replacing the classic carbon-based route with a blast furnace and converter. Working with strategic partners, SMS group covers the entire value chain of hydrogen-based steel production, from hydrogen synthesis and direct reduction to electric steelmaking and minimill technology.