International Steel Mills

HYBRIT Produces First Sponge Iron with Hydrogen Reduction

Written by Sandy Williams

SSAB and its green steel partners LKAB and Vattenfall claim to have made a major breakthrough in environmentally friendly steelmaking. The HYBRIT team said it has produced the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron, a major step toward fossil-free steel.

The HYBRIT pilot plant in Sweden – a joint project undertaken by steelmaker SSAB, iron ore miner and pellet producer LKAB, and power producer Vattenfall – has proven that it is possible to use fossil-free hydrogen gas to reduce iron ore instead of using coal and coke to remove the oxygen, the companies said. The process captures around 90% of the emissions from the steelmaking process. HYBRIT hopes to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by using only fossil-free feedstock and fossil-free energy. Instead of CO2, the emissions will be water.

So far, around 100 metric tons of sponge iron has been produced. Production has been continuous and of good quality, said HYBRIT.

“This is the first time ever that hydrogen made with fossil-free electricity has been used in the direct reduction of iron ore at a pilot scale,” HYBRIT said in a press release.

The hydrogen used in the direct reduction process is generated by electrolysis of water with fossil-free electricity and can be used immediately or stored for later use. HYBRIT began work in May on building a pilot-scale hydrogen storage facility adjacent to the direct reduction pilot plant in Luleå.

“This technological breakthrough is a critical step on the road to fossil-free steel. The potential cannot be underestimated. It means that we can reach climate goals in Sweden and Finland and contribute to reducing emissions across Europe. At the same time, it creates new jobs and export successes. SSAB’s transition means we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland. High-strength fossil-free steel will also allow us to help our customers to strengthen their competitiveness. As early as this year, we will deliver minor quantities of steel made using hydrogen-based reduction to customers, and in 2026 we will deliver fossil-free steel at a large scale,” SSAB President and CEO Martin Lindqvist said.

By Sandy Williams,

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