The first CO2-reduced hot rolled steel strip coils manufactured by Salzgitter AG have been delivered to the Waelzholz Group. Steel manufacturing via an electric furnace route reduces carbon emissions in this specific application by 71 percent compared with the conventional blast furnace route. As the technology leader in the cold rolling industry, Waelzholz was interested in Salzgitter AG’s innovative green flat steel at an early stage and is now the first manufacturer of cold rolled steel to process this CO2-reduced hot rolled steel strip.
In addition to combating climate change, lower CO2 emissions in the manufacture of steel products are increasingly becoming a business factor, as Friedrich Ellebrecht, Sales Manager at Salzgitter AG responsible for cold rolled steel producers, and Andreas Reil, Head of Sales at Waelzholz, agree. According to Reil: “We’re seeing a noticeable increase in customer demand for CO2-reduced steel materials. Salzgitter also recognized this trend early on and responded to it with its first production line specifically for CO2-reduced steel.” The majority of the carbon emissions associated with steel products are generated in the production of crude steel, which is why close collaboration with suppliers such as Salzgitter AG is an important strategic decision for manufacturers of cold rolled steel strip such as Waelzholz when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. “We are the first steel manufacturer in Europe whose CO2 emissions from steelmaking via the EAF process have been verified and validated by an external certification company. In addition, we only use recycled steel materials in this process, so the feedstock also helps keep our flat steel’s carbon footprint low,” explains Ellebrecht.
A real reduction in CO2 emissions
The first few tons of green steel strip will be delivered to an international steel processor after further processing by Waelzholz. “Many of our customers would like to offer products that are as climate-friendly as possible in the future. Incorporating this CO2-reduced material into their production processes is an excellent first step,” says Reil. And Ellebrecht adds: “Numerous customers are looking for a product that has been manufactured via a process with truly lower carbon emissions, rather than a product whose carbon footprint has been reduced via offsetting. With our new manufacturing route, we're offering exactly such a real-world reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.” Over the long term, Salzgitter AG plans to achieve carbon reductions of up to 95 % with the help of green hydrogen.
Product-related carbon footprint
“Through this partnership with Salzgitter, we are entering a promising pilot stage. We ourselves are equipping an electrical steel strip furnace and a bell annealing furnace with H2-ready burners in order to be able to run tests with hydrogen this year,” says Head of Purchasing Marcus Englberger, explaining another aspect of Waelzholz’s strategy to reduce CO2 emissions. The manufacturer of cold rolled steel strip is already on the home stretch with an elaborate meter structure that will allow it to precisely allocate energy consumption to individual products or customer orders. Certification is scheduled for this fall. The measures to reduce carbon emissions at Waelzholz are being spearheaded by a special task force that was established specifically for this purpose and includes members from various departments. A supply of green hydrogen as a carbon-neutral energy source remains the decisive factor, however. This is why Waelzholz is also politically active. According to Englberger: “Under Waelzholz’s leadership, representatives of companies from Hagen met with decision-makers from utility companies as well as with politicians at a workshop in March to initiate the development of a hydrogen infrastructure at Waelzholz’s headquarters in Hagen. As a technology leader in the cold rolling industry, we also want to be at the forefront of this important step forward on the road to CO2-reduced production.”