thyssenkrupp greenlights construction of €2B hydrogen-powered direct reduction plant for low-CO2 steel
The Executive Board of thyssenkrupp AG has released the corresponding capital resources for the construction of the first direct reduction (DR) plant at its Duisburg site. The Supervisory Board of thyssenkrupp AG supports this decision. The major project remains subject to public funding.
The plant, with a capacity of 2.5 million metric tons, will avoid the emission of 3.5 million metric tons of CO2. Construction will involve investment of more than €2 billion.
thyssenkrupp will build a €2B hydrogen-powered direct reduction plant at its Duisberg site. Capacity will be 2.5 million metric tons.
The release of this enormous investment comes in the midst of the company’s transformation, in what is also for all concerned an extremely challenging environment. We are thus underlining our claim to make a significant and, above all, rapid contribution to the green transformation—also where steel is concerned. This is a further step for our team at Steel Europe, for our partners and for the Ruhr region. In this region, we have everything that is needed for a successful green transformation. That is why the Ruhr region is playing a leading role in the energy turnaround. We are firmly convinced of this, and this is also borne out by this investment, which heralds a new era for steel production in the Ruhr region.—Martina Merz, CEO of thyssenkrupp AG
As part of its tkH2Steel transformation project, coal-based blast furnaces will be replaced by hydrogen-powered direct reduction plants. In contrast to a conventional blast furnace, DR plants do not produce hot metal, but solid sponge iron (Direct Reduced Iron, DRI). The DRI must then be melted down into a hot metal-like product so that it can be further processed into high-quality steel.
Together with plant manufacturers, thyssenkrupp Steel is developing a power-operated melting unit, which is combined with the DR plant. Direct reduction plants with melting units—just like a blast furnace—continuously produce a liquid product comparable to conventionally produced pig iron.
As a result, the new DR and melter plants can be seamlessly integrated into the existing metallurgical plant. Existing and proven processes in the Duisburg-based BOF (basic oxygen furnace) meltshops can be maintained. The liquid product is processed into the proven steel grades there. Thus, the Duisburg steelworks is continuing to boil steel as in the past—but with hydrogen and green power instead of coal. The feasibility, scalability and innovativeness of this concept were confirmed by scientists from RWTH Aachen University in a study commissioned by thyssenkrupp Steel at the beginning of 2021.
The first direct reduction plant with downstream melters will supply our customers with over two million metric tons of low-CO2 premium steel per year in the foreseeable future, significantly more than previously planned. We are thus reaffirming our goal of playing a leading role in the competition for the green steel markets of the future and supporting our customers in achieving their decarbonization targets. In addition, we are fulfilling our social responsibility and will already be reducing the CO2 emissions of our production by just under 20 percent in the first step. That is already five percent of the Ruhr region’s greenhouse gas emissions. Our tkH2Steel transformation project is the key to this.—Bernhard Osburg, Chairman of the Executive Board of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG
With its capacity of 2.5 million metric tons of direct reduced iron, the first plant will be larger than initially planned. In this way, thyssenkrupp is accelerating the start of low-CO2 steel production. At the same time, the increasing demand for climate-friendly steel is being taken into account and the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy is being accelerated.
In the new plant concept, the entire premium product portfolio can thus be produced with low CO2 emissions without compromising on quality.
With the increase in plant capacity, thyssenkrupp Steel has also significantly raised its climate targets.
By as soon as 2030, we are planning for around five million metric tons of low-CO2 steel, which will deliver CO2 savings of well over 30 percent. The now imminent construction of one of the largest hydrogen-powered direct reduction plants planned to date will also generate innovation and employment in the Ruhr region and beyond. The intelligent combination with newly developed melting units can serve as a model for many other decarbonization projects in the steel industry worldwide. In order to continue our transformation without delay, we are planning to award the contract in the fall and we are already making appropriate preparations.—Chief Technology Officer Arnd Köfler