RWE has converted a direct reduction plant to hydrogen at the gas-fired power plant site in Lingen. It is said to be the largest in the world. In the future, it will produce half a ton of "green iron" per hour using technology from HyIron. Starting in 2024, the plan is to use the pig iron for pipes made by the Benteler Group.
In the plant, iron ore is reduced using hydrogen instead of coking coal. The hydrogen reacts with the oxygen in the iron ore (iron oxide) and converts it into so-called sponge iron. Instead of carbon dioxide, this produces water vapor.
"Green iron for the steel industry"
According to the H2 Region Emsland, the HyIron group of companies is behind the technology. It includes the North Rhine-Westphalian companies TS Elino GmbH and 'CO2GRAB' GmbH. The pilot plant in Lingen was developed as part of the project 'GEiSt: Green Iron for the Steel Industry'.
In addition to HyIron, the energy supplier RWE, on whose site the plant is located, is also involved. The plant will produce half a ton of green iron per hour. This will be fused with scrap to make steel. Benteler Steel/Tube intends to use the steel produced in Lingen to manufacture low-CO₂ pipes.
Decarbonization of pig iron production plays "key role"
"The commissioning of pilot production is an important milestone for us in bringing the 'green iron' product to market maturity and establishing German technology worldwide," emphasizes Steffen Lackmann, shareholder of HyIron grid.
The state government of Lower Saxony is funding the project in Lingen with a total of €3 million. The transformation of the economy towards climate neutrality is essential to achieve the climate targets, emphasized Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Christian Meyer (Greens) with regard to the commissioning. The steel industry is one of the biggest CO₂ emitters.
"The decarbonization of pig iron production therefore has a key role to play, as this is where the greatest potential for reducing emissions lies," Meyer said.
Further plants planned in Africa
The plant in Lingen is expected to provide insights for entering industrial direct reduction with green hydrogen.
HyIron is planning to build a large-scale plant in Namibia, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2024. There, 2 million tons of green iron per year are to be produced for the steel industry in Germany. Part of the value added in steel production will thus be relocated.