- Technology can reduce steel industry CO2 emissions by 90%
- A financial gain is also expected
- The private sector must lead by example in the fight against climate change
Buildings, ships, tin cans… steel is found everywhere in our daily lives, and its production does not fall from the sky. The steel industry is therefore essential, but it is also singled out for its harmful aspect in the fight against climate change. To date, it would be responsible for 9% of global CO2 emissions.
An effective and economical method
A new method production developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham could, however, change the situation. They claim that it can reduce CO2 emissions by 90% across the industry. Their technique, if used on the two blast furnaces in the United Kingdom, would save 1.45 billion euros in 5 years.
How it works ? Concretely, to produce steel, we use coke, a type of coal that is used as fuel for the blast furnaces in which ore from mining is melted. This phase of the process releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide.
The technology concocted by the scientists therefore consists in converting this CO2 into carbon monoxide. This can then be reused for the iron ore reaction.
Quoted by our colleagues from TheNextWebYulong Ding, one of the researchers, specifies: “Current proposals to decarbonise the steel sector rely on phasing out existing mills and introducing electric arc furnaces powered by renewable electricity. However, building an electric arc furnace plant can cost upwards of £1 billion, making this change economically unfeasible in the time remaining to meet the Paris climate accord.”
On the other hand, the method they propose could make it possible to meet these deadlines. A patent application has already been filed and the University of Birmingham is looking for partners to deploy this technology on a larger scale.
Manufacturers need to act faster
In any case, there is an urgent need to act. According a study from the British environmental NGO Carbon Disclosure Project and the Climate Accountability Institute dating from 2017, 25 multinationals or public companies would be responsible for 71% of CO2 emissions in the world since 1988. Among them, we find the public company of extraction coal, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Total, ExxonMobil, Shell, or even BP, and Chevron.
Proof if it were needed, that small daily gestures, if necessary, will not be enough without more determined action by the large companies that emit the most CO2.