Innovation That Matters

| Photo source University of Birmingham Enterprise

A new process reduces emissions from steel furnaces by 90 per cent


The new system can be retrofitted to existing furnaces, allowing the industry to potentially meet Paris targets

Spotted: Iron and steelmaking is the biggest emitter of CO2 of all foundation industries (producers of core materials that supply other manufacturing and construction firms), accounting for nine per cent of global emissions. This is largely because steel and iron production is heavily reliant on coal, both as a feedstock and a fuel. However, because there are a limited number of steel and iron foundries, the industry is a good candidate for decarbonisation.

That is the goal of researchers from the University of Birmingham, who have designed a way to adapt existing iron and steel furnaces to reduce their CO2 emissions by nearly 90 per cent using a novel ‘closed loop’ carbon recycling system. This replaces around 90 per cent of the coke (a coal-based fuel) used in most blast furnaces. Instead of CO2, the recycling system produces oxygen as a by-product.

The system captures the CO2 produced in the furnace and reduces it using a crystalline mineral known as a ‘perovskite’ material. The perovskite splits CO2 into oxygen, which is absorbed into the crystal, and CO, which is fed back into the blast furnace. The perovskite can then be returned to its original form in a chemical reaction that takes place in a low oxygen environment.

The new system can be retrofitted to existing furnaces, making it cheaper than building new electric arc furnaces powered by renewable electricity.

Improving the sustainability of high CO2-emitting industries is vital to holding global warming to 1.5°C. In response, Springwise has spotted a growing number of innovations, including software to help get emissions from high-polluting industries, and steel production powered with green hydrogen.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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