Green iron from waste products | Final permits secured for full-scale green-hydrogen DRI plant in Sweden
Green iron from waste products | Final permits secured for full-scale green-hydrogen DRI plant in Sweden
July 1, 2024
By Rachel Parkes

A Swedish company building a pioneering green iron project that will use hydrogen to make tens of thousands of tonnes of direct-reduced iron (DRI, also known as sponge iron) has received the final permits it needs to build and operate its plant.

GreenIron has been granted permission by the Land and Environment Court in Östersund to process up to 30,000 tonnes per year of waste material to make up to 21,000 tonnes of DRI per year at its full-scale plant currently under construction in Sandviken,120km north of Stockholm.

The project — which is scheduled to come on line this year —will use 1,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, supplied by industrial gases firm Linde under a firm binding contract that has already been agreed, GreenIron told Hydrogen Insight.

Green hydrogen-based DRI (together with electric arc furnace smelting) has been touted as the most promising pathway to decarbonise steel production, which accounts for 7-8% of all global emissions, predominantly on account of the use of coking coal as a reduction agent to make pure iron suitable for steelmaking (see panel below).

But unlike most commercial-scale DRI plants typically operated by steel manufacturers, which usually process iron ore that has been mined, into sponge iron, GreenIron will use a variety of waste products containing oxidised iron, such as slag (a residual product from ironmaking), to process into pure metal.

The company said it can use roasted pyrite (a waste product from fertiliser production), filter dust, mill scale (a residual product from hot-rolling steel), swarf (left over from metal grinding), tailings and other oxidised metals to process into DRI, reducing the amount of iron ore mining required to produce steel.

GreenIron has a preliminary agreement in place with H2 Green Steel, which is building a giant green hydrogen, DRI and green steel production plant in Boden, northern Sweden, to supply waste products from that project when it begins operation.

The permit for the Sandviken plant currently allows DRI production only, Ilic said, but GreenIron’s technology could also reduce other oxidised compounds such as copper oxide and nickel oxide into pure copper and nickel.

The company has previously said it wants to deliver 300 of its small-scale furnaces by 2028.

This announcement is very welcome,” Edward Murray, GreenIron’s chief executive officer said. “Fantastic teamwork has enabled us to now accelerate the construction of our first production site. When we start production in Sandviken this year, it marks an important milestone in the transition of the hard to abate mining and metal industries that have significant emissions.”

Offtake agreements for the DRI are due to be firmed up in the coming months, Tanja Ilic, GreenIron’s chief commercial officer, told Hydrogen Insight.

GreenIron has not revealed where its hydrogen is coming from exactly, but Linde and Swedish steel producer Ovako have developed a 20MW green hydrogen project at Ovako’s complex in Hofors, just over 30km from Sandviken.

Ovako is selling some volumes from the plant to Volvo for use in fuel cell trucks, however it is not clear whether any further renewable H2 is being sold to outside customers.

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