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STEPWISE Report Summary

Project ID: 640769
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - STEPWISE (SEWGS Technology Platform for cost effective CO2 reduction the in the Iron and Steel Industry)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-10-31

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 CO2 emission. Moreover, a growth of the Iron and Steel industry is expected at an average rate of more than 3% per year. To avoid long term climate change, each industrial sector must look to improving energy efficiency and decreasing C-footprint, as recently reaffirmed in the COP21 negotiations.

The technology developed in the STEPWISE project has the potential to decrease CO2 emissions worldwide by 2.1 Gt/yr based on current steel industry emission levels. 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), using solid sorbents for CO2 capture 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 – lower carbon intensity, 85% reduction
• Higher energy efficiency – lower energy consumption for capture, 60% reduction
• Better economy – 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 gas source, subsequent gas 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

The STEPWISE project has 4 work packages:
WP1: Pilot design and construction
WP2: Material development and pilot operation
WP3: Techno-economic and LCA
WP4: Full scale SEWGS development
The overriding work packages are:
WP5: Dissemination
WP6: Management

In the design process, these stages have been completed: Common Design Practice, Basis of Design, Basic Design and Detailed Design. The lay-out comprises BFG compression, followed by a catalytic WGS converter optimizing for CO conversion to CO2 and H2, and a single column SEWGS reactor for the CO2-H2 separation.
Currently, the focus is on the construction and commissioning of the pilot. The different sections of the pilot have been procured, delivered and commissioned throughout 2016&2017 and only the commissioning of the reactor section is ongoing. Although all sections required adaptations, the overall safe operating strategy was not compromised.

For the WGS section, lab-scale testing demonstrated the suitability of a commercial FeCr-based catalyst for operation under BFG conditions. The catalyst is robust for feeds containing low contents of sulphur and steam. Low steam operation can reduce the overall steam requirement directly impacting the operational costs of the STEPWISE concept. Promising alternative catalysts were identified for the 2nd campaign. Finally, a newly shaped Fe-Cr-based catalyst is chosen.

For the SEWGS section, the chemical composition of the K-promoted MgAl-based adsorbent was optimized to improve its mechanical duration behavior. This base-material was produced at 12 tonnes scale using industrial production routes. The shaping procedure applying industrial techniques was optimized to obtain strong, dense pellets without compromising the sorbent functioning.

Both the catalyst and sorbent have been delivered to the pilot to be used in the 1st long campaign in 2018.

Reactor and system modelling, economic assessments and life cycle analyses are essential for the roll-out of the SEWGS technology. The existing SEWGS reactor model is refined for the interaction of CO2 and H2O with the sorbent and for the associated thermal effects. Final tuning will be based on pilot operation in 2018. Initial cycle optimization was performed, feeding into the techno-economic and LCA studies.

For the techno-economic analysis, the definition of the base and reference cases used methodologies defined in the IEAGHG report for better comparison of the STEPWISE results with alternative CCS systems. Post combustion amine-based CCS is defined as reference case. For the LCA, all cases defined in the techno-economic assessment have been incorporated. Techno-economic and LCA assessments of the STEPWISE cases is on-going.
Different to the power generation application, an inventory was started on alternative applications of the H2-rich gas produced by SEWGS, such as top gas recycling and the use throughout the steel plant.

The project website went live September 2015 ( and dissemination actions such as interviews, press releases, publications and announcements were pursued. Major events were the organization of the conference “Reducing the carbon footprint of the steel industry” on April 19&20, 2017, hosted by ECN and CATO, and of the grand opening of the pilot installation September 5 at Mefos. Furthermore, a promotional advertisement was made, consisting of a general STEPWISE film and 3 partner releases for ECN, Mefos and PTM.

A risk register was created as a live document, being updated continuously with new risks and risk mitigation actions. During the project kick-off, the organizational structure was accorded (Project Coordinator, Project Management Team, Exploitation Board, Risk Manager and Work Package Leaders). M5, M11, M17, M23 and M29 progress meetings were held and quarterly progress report were produced.

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)

In the STEPWISE project a pilot plant is designed, constructed and operated to demonstrate the SEWGS decarbonisation technology. This is the world's first SEWGS train for BFG treatment, 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. Thirdly, the potassium-promoted adsorbent has been produced at the 12 ton-scale on a industrial process line for the first time.

The impacts and wider societal implication of the project will become more apparent in the 3rd period of the project as the techno-economic assessment and life-cycle analysis progress. Stakeholder engagement is essential to the success of the project, and 62 major communication activities have been completed: project website, interviews, press releases, publications in popular journals and newsletters, participation in conferences and workshops.

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