Three of northern Sweden's largest companies LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall have joined forces in a unique initiative to revolutionize the Swedish iron and steel industry and become the first in the world to produce fossil-free steel.
– It is the single largest climate-related industrial investment being made right now, says Anders Lindberg, press manager at LKAB.
Under the name HYBRIT, the companies are working to develop the first fossil-free steel.
With the new technology, there is the potential to reduce Sweden's total carbon dioxide
emissions by at least ten percent. This corresponds to one third of industrial emissions and
has the potential to reduce emissions from iron and steel production worldwide by 35 million
tonnes, corresponding to two thirds of all of Sweden's emissions.
– The idea of doing this has been around for a long time, with us and other companies
around the world. Once the technology was in place, we were quick to test it and became
the first in the world to produce fossil-free steel, says Anders Lindberg, who has followed the
project since its start in 2016.
Water vapor instead of carbon dioxide
In June, the companies jointly produced the world's first hydrogen-reduced iron sponge,
which was an important step on the road to fossil-free iron and steel production.
– It feels really cool and is a privilege to be part of this journey that will revolutionize the iron
and steel industry. We have always felt that we have everyone behind us. The biggest
challenge now is the complex issue of permits”, says Anders Lindberg.
The technology means that the blast furnace process that uses coal and coke to remove the oxygen from the iron ore is replaced by a direct reduction process. Fossil-free hydrogen is used in the process, which is produced from water with electricity from renewable energy sources. Instead of carbon dioxide, water vapor is formed in the new procedure.
The strength lies in the collaboration
HYBRIT’s three companies each offer their expertise to different parts of the project and the strength lies in this collaboration. Through HYBRIT, expertise and resources are gathered to develop a value chain where synergies are utilized.
–The companies' different competencies are the strength of the project. Through the
collaboration, we can create a fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel. The
partnership can contribute to radically reducing emissions, while at the same time giving us
increased competitiveness for the industry, says Anders Lindberg, at LKAB.
Fossil-free steel on the market by 2026
In June 2021, the three companies were able to showcase the world's first hydrogen-
reduced iron sponge, produced in HYBRIT's pilot plant in Luleå. The first iron sponge has
since been used to produce the first steel made with the cutting-edge HYBRIT technology.
–Companies are already lining up to buy the fossil-free steel and surveys show that people
are willing to pay a little more to get, for example, a car made of fossil-free steel.
LKAB has targeted zero carbon dioxide emissions from its own processes and products by
2045, while SSAB aims to be the first in the world with fossil-free steel on the market as
early as 2026. Vattenfall strives to make it possible for people to live fossil-free within a
Stands for Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology.
A collaboration between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall
The project is financially supported by the Swedish Energy Agency.
The goal is a unified, unique value chain from mine to fossil-free steel.