Producing steel also means emitting a lot of CO2 into the environment. It is estimated, in fact, that the steel industry itself generates between 7 and 9% of CO2 emissions among all those generated through the use of fossil fuels, as noted in a new statement published on the CORDIS website.
Of course, several studies are underway to limit CO2 production when steel is produced, but not many of them have achieved results that suggest real applications. Now a new project, called H2Future and funded by the European Union, aims to discover new energy sources to achieve, albeit gradually, a real decarbonisation of steel production. In this regard, it is planned to use hydrogen as a renewable electricity source.
A pilot plant has already been set up in Linz, Austria, which has a capacity of 6 MW of electricity from renewable sources to produce up to 1200 m³ of green hydrogen. The press release on the launch of this new plant speaks of “an important milestone for the industrial application of electrolysis” in the steel industry, refineries, fertiliser production and other industrial sectors.
The new plant is based on the technique of electrolysis, a phenomenon in which water is divided into hydrogen and oxygen by electric current, as explained in the press release on the project website: “PEM technology works using a proton exchange membrane as the electrolyte. This membrane has a special property: it is permeable to protons but not to gases such as hydrogen and oxygen. This means that in a PEM-based electrolyzer the membrane acts as an electrolyte and separator to prevent the mixing of gaseous products.”