The world’s largest hydrogen direct reduction plant for the production of “green” iron was opened in Lingen by Lower Saxony’s Environment and Energy Minister Meyer.
Decarbonization of the steel industry is one of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change. In Germany alone, around 55 million tons of CO2 are emitted annually in steel production. This corresponds to six percent of total German emissions.
With the support of the state of Lower Saxony, the HyIron group of companies has now succeeded in taking a giant step towards meeting precisely this challenge. With the commissioning of the world’s largest direct reduction plant on the site of RWE’s Emsland gas-fired power plant, iron ore can be reduced using green hydrogen alone, and thus in a completely climate-neutral manner. The Lower Saxony Ministry of the Environment is funding the construction of the plant with three million euros.
In addition to HyIron, the companies involved in the project are RWE and Benteler Steel/Tube. With this project, the project partners are also testing the use of sponge iron in steel production from 2024. This is then 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 of the research project is to produce over one ton of “green” iron/hour using green hydrogen. “A lighthouse project with the world’s largest hydrogen direct reduction plant for the production of green iron is now getting underway at the Lingen site,” the partners said in a joint statement.
Thomas Michels, COO Benteler Steel/Tube: “The opening of the direct reduction plant at the Lingen site is a milestone within the joint project to produce and process green iron. In the future, the sponge iron produced there will be melted down in our electric steel plant in Lingen and processed into steel. Due to the similarly good mineralogical properties of sponge iron – compared with steel scrap – it can offer real added value as an alternative starting material base for low-CO2 steel production. We are very pleased to participate in this project and to contribute to the green transformation of the steel industry together with our cooperation partners HyIron and RWE.”
“The commissioning of pilot production at the Lingen site is a key milestone for us in bringing the “green iron” product to market maturity and establishing German technology worldwide,” confirms Dr. Stephan Köhne, managing partner of HyIron. “In Namibia, with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK), we are currently setting up production on an industrial scale. In the long term, we can produce up to two million tons of iron there for the German steel industry. Here in Lingen we are already using iron ore from Namibia to optimize the process and the product,” adds Köhne.
This innovative process is made possible by the development of a proprietary gas-tight rotary kiln. Here, 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 used again to produce hydrogen. This cycle represents another decisive advantage on the way to sustainable iron production.
Climate Protection Minister Christian Meyer: “The startup of this direct reduction plant is an important step on the way to a climate-neutral economy. The use of green hydrogen in steel production shows that technological innovations can make a decisive contribution to protecting our environment. The successful implementation of this project also underlines Lower Saxony’s attractiveness as a location for the future technology of hydrogen and underpins Lower Saxony’s path to becoming Germany’s No.1 green hydrogen state.”
District Administrator Marc-André Burgdorf: “The direct reduction plant for green iron once again demonstrates the potential for innovation in Emsland. With the excellent conditions of active companies, a strong network, support from regional politics as well as suitable infrastructure, we are not an important location for the hydrogen economy for nothing.”
Mayor Dieter Krone: “Lingen is already one of the most important energy locations and pioneers for green hydrogen in Germany. With the new hydrogen direct reduction plant for the production of green iron, we in Lingen are setting global standards for climate-neutral steel production – a milestone for the decarbonization of this important industry sector.”
HyIron’s technology makes it possible to exploit the global potential for climate-neutral iron production. Mechanisms such as climate protection agreements also make it possible to sustainably establish the production of these important raw materials in Germany.
The location decision for Lingen was made due to the high density of hydrogen projects in the H2 region Emsland in general and specifically at the RWE gas power plant site Emsland. 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 right 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 eight million euros.
HyIron is a group of companies of the TS Group from the Aachen area and LSF Energy from Paderborn. TS Group is a pioneer in technical solutions in the field of fuel cells, batteries and industrial furnaces while LSF Energy has many years of experience in renewable energy generation. Together, they launched CO2GRAB a few years ago with the aim of developing and marketing efficient technologies to avoid CO2 emissions.