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Mercedes-Benz partners wih SSAB on green steel

Mercedes-Benz has launched a partnership with the Swedish steel manufacturer SSAB for CO2-free steel. (Earlier post.) The first prototype parts for body shells made of CO2-free steel are already being planned for next year.

SSAB Oxelösund rolled its first steel produced using HYBRIT technology—i.e., reduced by 100% fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke—in July. That steel is now being delivered to the first customer, the Volvo Group.

In 2026, SSAB plans to supply the market with fossil-free steel at a commercial scale after the conversion of its Oxelösund blast furnaces to an electric arc furnace and by using HYBRIT technology, which replaces coking coal, traditionally needed for iron ore-based steelmaking, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. This process virtually eliminates carbon dioxide-emissions in steelmaking.

By 2039 at the latest, the Mercedes-Benz new passenger car fleet will become CO2-neutral along the entire value chain, including the supplier network. Together with all of its steel suppliers, the company pursues the goal of a green steel supply chain. In doing so, Mercedes-Benz is deliberately focusing on avoiding and reducing CO2 emissions instead of compensation. The partnership with SSAB is another important step towards this goal, with which the company accelerates the development and production of CO2-free steel in Europe.

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall created HYBRIT, Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology, in 2016, with the aim of developing a technology for fossil-free iron- and steelmaking.



Terrific news.
Carbon free steel is likely to remain at a premium to conventionally produced steel, but it is a price worth paying.
Lets hope that carbon costing pushes this across the board, not just for fairly premium cars, but you have to start somewhere.

Emissions from steel making are around 7% of CO2, and the much hyped transport sector only accounts for around 15% on a world basis, although a higher percentage in places like the US and Europe, so spending all resources on decarbonising transport and ignoring other sources is a missallocation.


I believe that this is a better use of hydrogen than fuel cell vehicles. It might be more energy efficient to use high temperature electrolysis of iron ore but this is still mostly a laboratory operation. However, it produces very high quality steel. I would expect that the steel produced using hydrogen reduced iron is also much cleaner than the steel made using coke reduced iron.

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This is an important use of Green H2. The cost can become competitive if a Carbon tax is included. Note: this is the Direct Reduction of Iron (DRI) and works with Electric Arc Furnaces (EAF). DRI/EAF is a widely used steel production process, though currently uses NG and emits CO2.
As @Davemart points out steel making emits 7% of Global CO2 and this use of H2 does not require a large infrastructure (just H2 storage). Steel production and Agriculture (i.e. Ammonia production) are key areas where Green H2 may have a larger impact than transportation and both are technically feasible today.



The direct electrolysis of molten iron ore does not require hydrogen and is CO2 free, It uses electric power to produce molten iron and oxygen plus a slag from whatever else might be in the iron ore. It will be more energy efficient than using hydrogen for reduction. The problem is that it has not been scaled up to a commercial size but it looks promising and BMW has invested in using this technique for automotive steel. See https://www.bostonmetal.com/home/

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There are several options, let's hope we can clean steel GHG before 2030.
Here is a good read that outlines these options:


The hydrogen gas used in the direct reduction process is produced by electrolysis of water with fossil-free electricity reduced by 100% fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke

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