What if in the future we produced steel by electrolysis and therefore without CO2 emissions? Electrolysis is one of the long-term options being explored by ArcelorMittal to make steel production more environmentally friendly. The Siderwin project is the enactment of this commitment, bringing together 12 European partners.
Launched in October 2017, Siderwin falls within the framework of long-term step-change projects. It seeks to develop a radically new steel production process without CO2 emissions, based on electrolysis technology. It follows an initial project launched in the early 2000s, one of whose missions was to lay the foundations for electrolytic steel production at the laboratory stage.
With Siderwin, we are changing scale: the purpose of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility of electrolysis technology by designing a large pilot unit (3x1m) that will be installed on the Maizières research campus. We will thus move from the production of a few kilos of iron metal, to some one hundred kilos.
Hervé Lavelaine, Research engineer at Maizières Process and coordinator of the European project.
With this technology, carbon is replaced by electricity and, if it were to come into being, it would require neither agglomeration nor coking plant. The blast furnace would be an electric plant, with oxygen being the only gas emitted. Even the formulation process would be simplified: there would be no need to treat the hot metal; the adjustment to grade with carbon addition would be performed during the melting of iron metal plates produced by electrolysis.
Electrolysis technology also has the advantage of flexibility and more specifically the ability to interrupt the iron metal production process. This is a key benefit in facilitating the incorporation of renewable (and therefore intermittent) energies into the electricity grid.
In the next two to three years, the operation of the Siderwin unit will be able to simulate its incorporation into the electricity grid.
The issues and broad outline of Siderwin technology are presented in the animation produced by the project’s European partners that is available online.
“We spent a lot of time designing and simulating. Now, we are keen to see the building erected and the new facility installed,” concludes Hervé.