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Rio Tinto and Salzgitter to study using Rio Tinto iron ore in SALCOS green steelmaking

Rio Tinto and the Salzgitter Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together towards carbon-free steelmaking by studying optimization of Rio Tinto’s high-quality Canadian and Australian iron ore products for use in Salzgitter’s SALCOS (SAlzgitter Low CO2-Steelmaking) green steel project in Germany. (Earlier post.)

Under the SALCOS program, Salzgitter’s carbon-based blast furnace route will gradually be replaced from the middle of this decade by direct reduction plants, initially operated by natural gas and then with a steadily increasing proportion of hydrogen.

Under the MOU, Rio Tinto and Salzgitter will explore optimization of iron ore pellets, lump and fines for use in hydrogen direct reduction steelmaking. The two companies will also explore the potential for greenhouse gas emission certification across the steel value chain.

Rio Tinto produces iron ore pellets and concentrate at Iron Ore Company of Canada and iron ore lump and fines in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The partnership will focus on the potential use of these products in the SALCOS program, which is targeting virtually carbon-free steel production, starting step-by-step in 2025 using hydrogen direct reduction.

Rio Tinto is committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and is targeting a 15% reduction in Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 2025 (from a 2018 baseline) and a 50% reduction by 2030. Rio Tinto’s approach to addressing Scope 3 emissions is to engage with its customers on climate change and work with them to develop the technologies to decarbonize.



Here is a video on my current fav tech UTube channel, 'Engineering with Rosie' on the different techs being employed to reduce GHG in steelmaking.

It answers the question why steelmakers are currently looking to hydrogen, mixed in with natural gas in ever increasing proportions, rather than probably inherently better direct reduction and low temperature electrolysis methods.

Basically it can be introduced incrementally, largely using existing infrastructure, so is an easier near term swap.

Fortunately longer term as it is presumably gradually replaced in steel making, there is plenty of demand for the hydrogen to be switched to helping with something else.

So more or less a very good short term fix, if short term is 20-30 years or so, but one which can greatly help in the important task of swift GHG emission reduction before we fry.

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