Sweden’s Höganäs AB and Cortus Energy are said to be building the world’s first plant for demonstrating, on an industrial scale, fossil-free steel production based on the gasification of biomass using a new technology. According to the companies, the technology could revolutionise the steel industry’s work on phasing out fossil natural gas and coke.
Until now, no alternatives to fossil fuels were available in the iron and steel industries, but Cortus Energy is said to have developed a technology that meets the manufacturing processes’ requirements for purity and high temperatures. The patented WoodRoll® technology is said to offer a unique way of gasifying biomass to offer green energy solutions for power, industrial and transport applications, and to enable manufacturers to use low-grade renewable fuels without compromising on process performance.
Höganäs has reportedly installed a fourteen-meter high gasifier on site, and intensive construction work is underway to complete the plant in time for its opening in June 2018. It is said that this plant will produce a gas from forestry raw products which will then replace natural gas in the company’s steel production.
“The plant has the capacity to reduce Höganäs’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 tonnes a year,” stated Magnus Pettersson, Project Manager, Höganäs. “But the first stage intends to demonstrate how the new fuel will work in the heat treatment of steel. In addition, the aim is to spread the technology so that the entire industry can phase out fossil fuels.”
Rolf Ljungren, Cortus Energy, explained, “We have been developing and studying the technology at a test plant in Köping since 2011, but this is the first time we have built a plant for the industry. This means upscaling the test plant to twelve times the size compared with Höganäs’s initial needs. We are employing eleven people to run the plant to begin with. After commissioning, some of them will be integrated into our process team.”
This investment in the technology is stated to be in the range of SEK 100 million, and could prove an important step in spreading the technology to more companies in the sector. “There is a tremendous amount of interest and everyone is now waiting to see the first industrial plant when it is opened in June. In Köping, we have had visitors from all the Nordic countries and also France, the Netherlands, the USA, Japan, China and Russia,” concluded Ljunggren.