The Swedish and Finnish steel industry has a world-leading position in terms of efficient blast furnace operations with low CO2
emissions. This is a result of a successful development work carried out in the 1980s at LKAB (Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag, mining company) and SSAB (steel company) followed by the closing of sinter plants and transition to 100% pellet operation at all of SSAB’s five blast furnaces. However, to further reduce CO2
emission in iron production, a new breakthrough technology is necessary. In 2016, SSAB teamed up with LKAB and Vattenfall AB (energy company) and launched a project aimed at investigating the feasibility of a hydrogen-based sponge iron production process with fossil-free electricity as the primary energy source: HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology). A prefeasibility study was carried out in 2017, which concluded that the proposed process route is technically feasible and economically attractive for conditions in northern Sweden/Finland. A decision was made in February 2018 to build a pilot plant, and construction started in June 2018, with completion of the plant planned in summer 2020 followed by experimental campaigns the following years. Parallel with the pilot plant activities, a four-year research program was launched from the autumn of 2016 involving several research institutes and universities in Sweden to build knowledge and competence in several subject areas.
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