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HyIron opens direct reduction plant for green iron

HyIron, with the support of the state of Lower Saxony, has commissioned what it says is the world’s largest direct reduction plant for green iron on the site of RWE’s Emsland gas-fired power plant. At the plant, iron ore will be reduced solely with the aid of green hydrogen. The Lower Saxony Ministry of Environment is funding the construction of the plant with €3 million.

In addition to HyIron, RWE and BENTELER Steel/Tube are involved in this GEiSt (Grünes Eisen in der Stahlindustrie, Green Iron in the steel industry) project. With this project the partners are also testing the use of sponge iron in steel production from 2024. This will then be melted down with steel scrap and further processed into steel. BENTELER Steel/Tube wants to use the steel produced in Lingen to make low-CO2 tubes.

The first step in the research project is to produce more than one ton of green iron/hour using green hydrogen.

The start-up of the pilot production at the Lingen site is a major milestone for us in bringing the “green iron” product to market maturity and establishing German technology worldwide. In Namibia, we are currently setting up an industrial-scale production with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).

In the long term, we will be able to produce up to two million tons of iron for the German steel industry, there. Here in Lingen, we are already using iron ore from Namibia to optimize the process and the product.

—Dr Stephan Köhne, managing partner of HyIron


This innovative process is made possible by the development of a proprietary gas-tight rotary kiln. Here the hydrogen reacts completely with the oxygen in the iron ore and converts it into elemental iron (direct reduced iron (DRI)). Instead of carbon dioxide, this technology produces only water vapor, which can be reused for hydrogen production. This cycle represents another decisive advantage on the way to sustainable iron production.


Airtight rotary kiln for iron reduction. Source: HyIron

HyIron’s location decision for Lingen was made due to the high density of hydrogen projects in the Emsland H2 region in general and specifically at RWE’s Emsland gas-fired power plant site. In the future, the green hydrogen for HyIron will be produced in RWE’s 14-megawatt pilot electrolysis plant, which is expected to start operating directly next to the direct reduction plant at the end of 2023.

The Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection is funding the construction of the pilot electrolysis plant with €8 million.

HyIron was established through a partnership of Namibian and German companies that work in the field of renewable energies and engineering. The first industrial production of iron at net zero emissions based on the HyIron technology will be established in the context of the Oshivela project in Namibia. In the first project phase an annual output of 15,000 tonnes DRI (Direct Reduced Iron) is planned.

BENTELER Steel/Tube develops and produces steel as well as seamless and welded quality steel tubes. As one of the leading manufacturers, BENTELER Steel/Tube offers customers worldwide solutions along the entire value chain – from material development to tube application. This creates tailored products made of tubes for the automotive, energy and industrial markets.


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