HYBRIT’s aiming towards a revolution in steel production

The steel industry is one of the largest sources of CO2-emissions. With completely fossil-free steel production, Sweden's total emissions could be reduced by as much as 10 percent – therefore, HYBRIT was founded in 2016.

For HYBRIT, a joint venture between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, the goal is to achieve fossil-free steel production by 2035. Right now, there are three different ongoing pilot projects. One of them is building a new factory at SSAB’s plant in Svartön, Luleå.

– This is the heart of the HYBRIT process that’s now being finalized and should be ready by the summer of 2020. This autumn, we can start experimental production, said Martin Pei, chairman of HYBRIT and Executive Vice President & CTO at SSAB.

Besides the pilot project in Svartön, Luleå, work is in progress to rebuild one of LKAB’s pelletizing plants in Malmberget, where bio-oil will be tested as a substitute for fossil fuel oil. Provided that adequate quantities of bio-oil are available, this shift away from fossil fuels could mean that carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by up to 40 percent during the test period, thus preventing 60 000 tonnes of emissions per year.

The last piece of the puzzle in the pilot project portfolio of HYBRIT is building a hydrogen storage research facility at Svartöberget in Luleå, close to SSAB’s industrial area. This is a crucial step in reaching the goal of fossil-free iron and steel production.

– When we implement energy storage on a larger scale,  we will secure the supply of hydrogen fuel to our industrial process around the clock. It may also serve to balance the grid through load shifting, which will be an important component in supporting and stabilizing the energy grid of the future.

Having three strong companies behind HYBRIT is a huge advantage. SSAB and LKAB have a long tradition of integrating their production setups, where large steps have been taken to utilize the most efficient blast furnace production technology. However to be able to scale up and achieve fossil-free production, access to green electricity is required. This led to SSAB contacting Vattenfall.

– In Northern Sweden, there is a lot of fossil-free electricity, thanks to hydro and wind power. This makes it very attractive to operate in the north of Sweden. The next step is to invest in testing, developing and commercializing the new technology. The need to adopt fossil-free steel production is not restricted to just SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, so we are looking forward to sharing this technology globally when it is proven possible, said Martin Pei.
-It is not just our abundant green electricity that makes Northern Sweden an attractive location for such sustainable innovations, said Mox Murugan, Investment Manager at Invest in Norrbotten.  There is also a huge cost advantage for energy intensive industries as we have Europé’s lowest electricity prices.  Norrbotten has long been a test centre for companies to evaluate new ideas, but increasingly it is also the place for them to manufacture and commercialize those innovations.

Hybrit was one of the keynote speakers at Demo North Summit, 26-28/2 2020. The event was an activity within the project “Demo North“, owned by Invest in Norrbotten and financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the County Council of Norrbotten and Sparbanken Nord. 

Learn more about other fields