HYBRIT pilot facility for underground hydrogen storage up and running

HYBRIT pilot facility for underground hydrogen storage up and running
Following the June inauguration of HYBRIT’s pilot rock cavern hydrogen storage facility, initial pressure tests with water confirmed the facility's mechanical stability, tightness and pressure capacity. The facility was then filled with hydrogen gas and even reached the maximum operating pressure of 250 bar.

The commissioning of the storage facility in Luleå, Sweden, has shown that the facility works according to its design and meets all safety requirements.

The technology for the storage of gas in an underground lined rock cavern (LRC) involves the cavern walls being lined with a sealing layer. LRCs have been thoroughly tested with natural gas, but the pilot facility in Luleå is the first in the world to test the technology with repeated filling and emptying of hydrogen gas.

The pilot facility’s size is 100 m3, and at a later stage it may be necessary to keep 100,000 to 120,000 m3 of pressurised hydrogen gas in a full-scale storage. This means that up to 100 GWh of electricity in the form of hydrogen gas could be stored, which is enough to supply a full-size sponge iron factory for about three to four days.

“The fact that this technology is now working is great news, and is an important milestone in the development of a fossil-free value chain for ore-based iron and steel production,” said Mikael Nordlander, Director of Industry Decarbonisation at Vattenfall. “The use of large-scale hydrogen storage means that the industry will have a more robust and plannable supply of hydrogen from fossil-free electricity, even when the electricity system becomes more dependent on the weather. This enables us to make very efficient use of our fossil-free wind power production and store the hydrogen when the weather is very windy.”

Martin Pei, CTO at SSAB, commented: “It’s very positive for us that the hydrogen gas storage pilot facility is up and running and that the technology has worked as it should up to now. That’s another important milestone. Now we’ll bring the plan to completion with test campaigns and collect important data and knowledge to make a full-scale facility possible.”

Lars Ydreskog, Director of Strategic Projects at LKAB, added: “Hydrogen gas and its storage are central to our transition. In just four years, HYBRIT technology will be used for the production of fossil-free sponge iron on a large scale at a first demonstration facility in Gällivare. LKAB will become one of Europe’s biggest hydrogen producers, and this pilot project will provide valuable knowledge for the continuing work on creating the world’s first fossil-free value chain for the iron and steel industry.”

HYBRIT facts

  • The HYBRIT initiative was launched in 2016 by the three owners: SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.
  • With the HYBRIT initiative, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall intend to create a completely fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel, with fossil-free pellets, fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.
  • The pilot facility for the production of fossil-free sponge iron in Luleå was commissioned on 31 August 2020.
  • On 24 March 2021, Gällivare was chosen as the location for the planned demonstration facility for industrial scale production. The sponge iron is used to make steel in the next stage.
  • In May 2021, construction began on a storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas on a pilot scale next to HYBRIT’s pilot facility for direct reduction in Luleå, the storage facility began operation in late summer 2022.
  • In August 2021, SSAB produced the world’s first fossil-free steel, using HYBRIT technology, and delivered it to the customer. The test delivery was an important step toward a completely fossil-free value chain for iron and steel production and a milestone for the HYBRIT collaboration between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.
  • Hybrit Development AB is a research and technology development company that will deliver solutions to the facilities. Technological development will take place in close partnership with the holding companies. 
  • The steel industry today accounts for 7% of total global CO2 emissions. Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB can help reduce Sweden’s CO2 emissions by 10% and Finland’s by 7%.
  • When completed, LKAB’s transition, with the help of HYBRIT technology, will reduce emissions in the global steel industry by 40–50 million tonnes of CO2 a year. This corresponds to all of Sweden’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.
HTW Editorial Team

HTW Editorial Team

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