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Carbon Direct Avoidance in steel: Electricity and hydrogen-based metallurgy (Clean Steel Partnership) (IA)


This topic covers carbon direct avoidance technologies leading to significant CO2 emission reduction in the steel sector.

The Commission’s Strategic Vision “A Clean Planet for all” indicates that deep CO2 emissions reductions in the steel sector are possible through a combination of technological pathways, including steel recycling, carbon capture utilisation and storage, process integration, and electricity/hydrogen-based metallurgy. While energy intensity has reduced significantly over the past decades, the steel industry remains a large source of emissions due to preferred use of coal and energy needed to reduce iron oxides. With alternative pathways used with green electricity and green gases, the emissions can be further reduced so that these pathways could achieve CO2 reductions of up to 95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

There is no one solution to achieve low-CO2 steelmaking, as there is expected to be a variety of production technologies in the future. Relevant participation from sectors other than steel is not excluded, if the technologies presented are compatible with the expected outcomes of the topic and the Clean Steel partnership objectives.

The projects proposed are expected to address the following research and innovation areas:

  • Replacement of fossil carbon energy by renewable (hydro/wind/solar) electricity in iron and steelmaking;
  • Development of pilots and demonstrators in the field of direct reduction of iron with hydrogen. Direct reduction of iron ore with high amounts of hydrogen is expected to be key for CO2 neutral steelmaking;
  • Improvement of plasma melting processes with improved electrode technologies using a plasma torch or plasma smelting reduction leading to CO2 reduction compared to fossil-based fuels;
  • Development and testing of direct electricity based iron oxides reduction processes including the electrolytic reduction at high or low temperature;
  • Innovation activities focused on the process and the product properties as well as on the impact of the product properties on the downstream processes (e.g. Electric Arc Furnace). The process technology may have to be adapted to the new boundary conditions;

Proposals submitted under this topic should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the introduction to this Destination.

This topic implements the co-programmed European Partnership on Clean Steel.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement