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STEPWISE Report Summary

Project ID: 640769
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - STEPWISE (SEWGS Technology Platform for cost effective CO2 reduction the in the Iron and Steel Industry)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Iron and Steel industry is responsible for an annual output of ~2.5-3.0 GtCO2/yr, with up to 10% originating from within the European Union. This represents 6% of total CO2 emissions, and 16% of total industrial emission of CO2. Moreover, the Iron and Steel industry is predicted to continue growing at an average rate of more than 3% per year. In terms of avoiding serious long term climate change, it is essential that each industrial sector look to improving energy efficiency and decreasing CO2 output, as most recently reaffirmed in the COP21 negotiations in Paris.

The technology developed in the STEPWISE project has the potential to decrease CO2 emissions worldwide by 2.1 Gt/yr based on current emission levels in the steel industry. The conservative estimate is that by 2050, a potential cost saving of 750 times the research costs for this project will be realized each year every year, with a much larger potential. The overall objective is to secure jobs in the highly competitive European steel industry, a sector employing 360 thousand skilled people with an annual turnover of €170 billion.

The STEPWISE project has at its heart the SEWGS technology (Sorption-Enhanced Water-Gas Shift). The SEWGS technology platform is a solid sorption technology for CO2 capture from fuel gases in combination with water-gas shift and acid gas removal. The main objectives of the proposed STEPWISE project is to scale up the SEWGS technology for the CO2 capture from Blast Furnace Gases (BFG) with three overall demonstration goals in comparison to state-of-the-art technologies:
• Higher carbon capture rate – i.e. lower carbon intensity, 85% reduction
• Higher energy efficiency – i.e. lower energy consumption for capture, 60% reduction
• Better economy – i.e. lower cost of CO2 avoided, 25% reduction

The STEPWISE project will achieve this by the construction and the operation of a SEWGS pilot test installation at a blast furnace site enabling the technology to reach TRL6 as the next step in the research, development and demonstration trajectory. This will further reduce the risks associated with scaling up of technology. Additionally, sorbent production scale-up and endurance testing will be addressed. For the first time, three key components in the required technology chain will be coupled together: an industrial syngas source, subsequent syngas pre-processing with the advanced water-gas shift, and finally CO and sulphur component cleanup with simultaneous CO2 removal in the SEWGS. The consortium ready to achieve this represents 9 partners from 5 member states, bringing together technology providers, sorbent and catalyst manufacturers, to system design and engineering companies through to an industrial end user, all committed to proactive dissemination and information exchange with stakeholders and other CCS technology developments.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In this initial stage of the STEPWISE project, the focus is on the design of the pilot (WP1) and on the development of the required materials (WP2). The modelling activities in WP3 and WP4 have just started in M9 of the project. Additionally, dissemination activities are initiated (WP5) and project management is on ongoing activity (WP6).

In the design of the pilot, the following stages are completed:
i) definition of the Common Design Practice to align the activities of the various partners involved in the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of the STEPWISE pilot unit.
ii) definition of the Basis of Design to describe the minimum technical requirements and site specific data for design, engineering, supply of materials and equipment, fabrication, delivery to the construction site, unit assembling, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the STEPWISE Pilot unit.
iii) definition of the Basic Design to further detail the requirements for the pilot installation.
iv) definition of the Detailed Design, fixing the pilot lay-out and finalizing the functional specifications of all equipment to start the procurement and construction.
Long lead items are identified early in the process and special attention is given to define their technical specifications to allow timely procurement. This concerns the BFG compressor, together with the steam boiler and N2 compression system.
The pilot lay-out basically comprises BFG compression, followed by a catalytic WGS converter optimizing for CO conversion to CO2 and H2, and a single column SEWGS reactor to effect the CO2-H2 separation.

For the WGS section, a commercial Iron-Chromium-based catalyst is available and a novel catalyst is under development. The suitability of the commercial catalyst under the atypical conditions for BFG operation was established, illustrating the catalyst robustness at the low sulphur conditions associated with BFG. The novel catalyst is shown to be suitable for low steam operation.
For the SEWGS section, the chemical composition of the potassium promoted Magnesium-Aluminium-based adsorbent is optimized to improve its mechanical duration behavior. This material is produced at 15 tonnes scale using industrial production routes.

Reactor modelling as well as system modelling, economic assessments and life cycle analyses are essential to demonstrate the potential of the STEPWISE SEWGS technology and for its further roll-out. Calibration of the existing SEWGS reactor model identified the focal areas for model tuning and a start was made to define the base case and reference cases for the techno-economic assessment. An inventory of the characteristics of the different unit operations relevant for the life-cycle-analysis is also started.

The project website went live September 2015 ( and several interviews, press releases and announcements are made. Several workshops, conferences and symposia are attended. The dissemination plan for year 2 is accorded by the project management team.

A risk register is created as a live document, being updated continuously with new risks and risk mitigation actions on identified risks. The pre-financing for all partners was arranged July 2016. A project kick-off is organized, during which the organizational structure is accorded (Project Coordinator, Project Management Team, Exploitation Board, Risk Manager and Work Package Leaders). M5 and M11 progress meetings are held and quarterly progress report are made.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The start-up phase of the STEPWISE project has focused on progressing the engineering of the pilot plant down to a detailed engineering level. This is the world's first SEWGS (Sorption-Enhanced Water-Gas Shift) train for an industrially sources reducing gas (in this case Blast Furnace Gas, BFG) including compression, advanced shift and SEWGS units, and therefore already represents a step beyond state-of-the art. Secondly, standard water-gas shift catalysts have been tested under conditions equivalent to industrial operation for the unit and show excellent stability in this new environment, as is also the case for the new novel catalyst working under low steam conditions. The latter allows an improvement of performance of the whole system in-line with, and a part of the projected efficiency increase. Thirdly, the potassium-promoted adsorbent has been produced at the 15 ton-scale on a industrial process line for the first time.

The impacts and wider societal implication of the project so far will become more apparant as the work packages dealing with these issues come online later in the project. These work packages have only started in the last few months after the go for construction has been given, and helps to align the timing of all the tasks to be covered in this collaborative project.

Related information

Record Number: 191366 / Last updated on: 2016-11-16
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