Revolutionary Investment In Carbon-Free Sponge Iron

LKAB is working with SSAB and Vattenfall to develop iron- and steelmaking technology, with the aim of producing carbon-free sponge iron in order to reduce global carbon emissions.

The HYBRIT initiative is a joint initiative by LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall to secure a fossil-free value chain from mine to steel. The idea behind the development of this technology is to use hydrogen in the reduction process – hydrogen that has been produced using electricity from Swedish fossil-free sources. The residual product is ordinary water. Replacing coal and oil with fossil-free fuel in LKAB’s upgrading process is a necessary step. In June a bio-oil plant was taken into operation at LKAB’s site in Malmberget and now supplies one of the existing processing plants; in November, LKAB produced the world’s first iron ore pellets using fossil-free fuel. In parallel, tests are taking place with other carbon-free and fossil-free heating technologies at LKAB’s experimental facility in Luleå.

“Bio-oil is an important step in the transformation process for a fossil-free future, even though LKAB’s goal is to transition to entirely carbon-free alternatives in the longer term. We are pleased to have in place the first iron ore products produced using entirely fossil-free fuel, which can then be processed further into steel,” says Christian Fredriksson, a specialist in combustion.

In spring 2021 it was decided that, as part of the HYBRIT initiative, a joint demo plant would be built for the production of fossil-free sponge iron in Malmberget. This collaboration is an important part of LKAB’s plan for developing processes that are entirely carbon-free by 2045. In order for the new technology to have the effect the world hopes for, a long-term plan needs to be put in place now to move from developing the technology to industrial large scale application enabling us to offer carbon-free sponge iron on a global market.