Our direct reduction ironmaking plant is the world's first direct reduction plant (DRI plant) flexibly operated with hydrogen and natural gas in an integrated steel mill.
μ here stands for the reduction scale of the plant. In this way, we demonstrate the process and gain the necessary knowledge to produce on a much larger scale on DRI plants in a few years.
Direct reduction enables us to avoid the generation of CO2 in steel production from the outset ("carbon direct avoidance" strategy) and is therefore a significant sub-step of the SALCOS® project.
Our innovative plant offers both the option of the already established operation with natural gas and the sustainable direct reduction with 100% hydrogen. It has been proven that we can reduce our CO2-emissions in crude steel production by up to 95% with direct reduction plants.
We are investing €13.6 million in the construction of the μDRAL plant. The German government's environmental innovation program is supporting us with a 40% subsidy. This program promotes innovative technical processes that contributes to reduce the burden on the environment. In the last 10 years, for example, 1,021 thousand metric tons of CO2 have already been saved by the plants supported by the environmental innovation program.
In direct reduction, iron ore is converted into sponge iron with the aid of a reducing agent. The reducing gas removes the oxygen from the iron ore without it melting. This process takes place in the direct reduction plant at overpressure and at around 1,050 °C. The reduction gas is used to remove the oxygen from the iron ore without melting it.
Instead of CO2, this technology produces water, which in turn is further used in the integrated process. With our direct reduction plant, we can use both natural gas and hydrogen flexibly in different proportions (0% - 100%) as reducing agents. It offers us the possibility of gradually reducing the natural gas content in the process and ultimately replacing it completely with hydrogen. This will enable us to reduce our CO2 emissions by 30% with just our first direct reduction plant.
We are laying the foundation for a secure supply of electrolytically produced green hydrogen with the WindH2 and GrInHy2.0 subprojects.
With direct reduction technology, iron ore is not smelted but reduced directly to metallic iron in the solid state. This intermediate product is known as DRI ("direct reduced iron"). Via a material switch, we also have the option of pressing the DRI directly in the plant to HBI ("hot briquetted iron").
In the electric arc furnace, the direct-reduced iron is melted down together with steel scrap and we obtain our usual high-quality steel. The difference: no CO2 is produced on this path from iron ore to steel!
For all sub-projects of the SALCOS® concept, we cooperate with different specialists. Our partner in project planning and implementation, as well as the technological supplier of the µDRAL plant, is Tenova, an international manufacturer of plants for the metals and mining industries.
Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH provides the necessary infrastructure and takes over the operation of the plant.