New blast furnace technologies and the use of green hydrogen or scrap steel make it possible to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the production of crude steel. Both green hydrogen and scrap steel are in limited supply worldwide, however.
Using green hydrogen to produce low-emission hot rolled steel strip
Approximately 90% of the carbon footprint of our steel materials results from the production of hot rolled steel strip (Scope 3) and is tracked by us using the “cradle-to-gate” approach. This approach takes all emissions into account – from iron ore extraction to steel production to delivery of the finished cold rolled steel strip through the Waelzholz factory gates.
Processes that can significantly reduce carbon emissions from crude steel production
In the future, traditional coal-fired blast furnaces will be replaced by a combined routing of direct reduction systems and electric arc furnaces (known as the DRI-EAF route*). This is because they can be powered by green hydrogen. Making this change will enable crude steel to be produced with up to 95% fewer emissions, i.e., virtually carbon neutral. This will require green hydrogen to be available in the quantities required for this process, however. During a transitional phase, the DRI-EAF route can also be operated with natural gas, which itself would already make it possible to reduce carbon emissions by up to 60%.
Another option that would significantly reduce emissions in crude steel production is the scrap-based process using an electric arc furnace (EAF route**). This technology can be used to produce new steel from up to 100% scrap steel. Compared to the traditional blast furnace route, melting down scrap steel only generates around a third of the carbon emissions. The amount of scrap available worldwide is limited, however, and will not increase over the medium term.
Benefits of the new blast furnace technologies at a glance
Process A: DRI-EAF route*
- Runs on green hydrogen in the future
- Up to 95% reduction in carbon emissions possible
- Can also be operated with natural gas in transitional phases (up to 60% reduction in carbon emissions possible)
Process B: EAF, scrap-based route*
- Uses 100% scrap steel (scrap supply limited, however)
- Generates only around 30% of the carbon emissions of the conventional blast furnace route
* DRI: direct reduced iron
** EAF: electrical arc furnace
Steel materials with a reduced carbon footprint
In addition to the technological basis for the transformation of a wide range of applications, we also offer verified, product-specific carbon footprints and real emissions reductions with our materials. Find out more in the adjacent brochure.