Europe’s largest steel site in Duisburg is taking on a pioneering role in the decarbonisation of steel production. As early as 2019, the two partners injected hydrogen into a blast furnace for the first time on a test basis to reduce CO2 emissions from conventional steel production. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia supported the project at the time as a pioneering pilot project. In the future, hydrogen will be a key molecule for producing carbon-neutral steel.
Bernhard Osburg, CEO of thyssenkrupp Steel, commented: “I am pleased that we are taking another step toward decarbonization. By linking our site to the Air Liquide hydrogen pipeline, we at thyssenkrupp Steel are creating the conditions for climate-friendly steel production. We are moving forward step-by-step on our path to transformation. With the pipeline now completed by our partner Air Liquide, we are creating further facts. It will enable climate-friendly hydrogen to be delivered to us from 2024 onward. We will need it for research and simulation purposes and then, most importantly, to power our first direct reduction plant.”
Air Liquide’s 200 km long hydrogen pipeline network in the Rhine and Ruhr region offers the best opportunities for launching into the hydrogen future. The pipelines connect hydrogen production plants and major customers in Marl, Oberhausen, Duisburg, Krefeld, Leverkusen, Dormagen, Düsseldorf and other cities in the region.
Gilles Le Van, Vice President Large Industries and Energy Transition for Air Liquide Central Europe, said: “For the industrial transformation to succeed, we need determined cooperation between policymakers and industry. The new hydrogen pipeline to thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg is a prime example of this. A big thank you is due to the Federal Ministry for Economics and the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is vital for the survival of industry in Germany that we always think about effective climate change mitigation and international competitiveness together.”
In the fall of 2023, the trailblazer in Oberhausen, Germany, is scheduled to become the first 20 MW industrial-scale water electrolysis plant to be connected to Air Liquide’s H2 network. In the first stage, this will allow customers to be supplied with up to 2,900 metric tons of renewable hydrogen per year via pipeline. Provision for expanding capacity by +10 MW is in preparation, and additional initiatives to provide renewable hydrogen for industry and mobility in the region are under development.
Hydrogen has not yet been used on a large industrial scale for steel production. Starting in 2019, thyssenkrupp Steel has successfully completed a series of initial tests for hydrogen injection into an existing blast furnace. Although an expansion of these tests is currently suspended due to high natural gas and energy prices, plans to build a direct reduction test facility are continuing unabated, in which the technological leap to hydrogen-based, carbon-neutral hot iron production will be tried out. The technological milestone will be when the first large-scale industrial direct reduction plant with melting units is constructed. The contracts for this are to be awarded shortly. Completion is scheduled for 2026.