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Eliminating Carbon Emissions in Steel Production


Hydrogen is a crucial part of the world’s plans to greenify its manufacturing and automobile industries as a fuel whose production and use needn’t emit carbon.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Green Steel Production through Direct Reduction with Hydrogen Gas
  2. Benefits of Using Hydrogen as a Reducing Agent in Steel Production
  3. Current Status of Steel Production in India

Green Steel Production through Direct Reduction with Hydrogen Gas

  • The direct reduction process by hydrogen (DR-H) is a steel production method that involves the use of hydrogen gas to reduce iron oxide (Fe2O3) into metallic iron (Fe) without the use of a blast furnace.
  • DR-H, also known as the “green route” for steel production, significantly reduces carbon emissions associated with traditional steelmaking processes.
  • The DR-H process typically involves mixing iron ore pellets or lumps with hydrogen gas in a reactor vessel at temperatures ranging from 600 to 800°C.
  • The hydrogen gas reacts with the iron oxide to form metallic iron and water vapor.
  • The chemical equation for this reaction is: Fe2O3 + 3H2 → 2Fe + 3H2O.

Benefits of Using Hydrogen as a Reducing Agent in Steel Production

  • Hydrogen produces only water vapor as a byproduct, making it a cleaner alternative to coal/coke for steel production.
  • The use of hydrogen as a reducing agent has the potential to reduce carbon emissions in steel production by up to 97%.
  • The direct reduction process eliminates the need for heating and melting large quantities of iron ore in a blast furnace, making it more efficient.
  • The high-quality iron produced through direct reduction has lower levels of impurities, resulting in higher-quality steel.
  • Direct reduction by hydrogen can be used with a wide range of iron ores, including those with lower iron content.
  • The direct reduction process can be more cost-effective than traditional steelmaking methods, especially when natural gas prices are high.

Current Status of Steel Production in India

  • India is currently the world’s second-largest producer of crude steel as of 2021, following China.
  • In 2021, India was also the second-largest consumer of finished steel, preceded by China.
  • Major steel production centers in India include Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Durgapur (West Bengal), Burnpur (West Bengal), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Rourkela (Odisha), and Bokaro (Jharkhand).
  • India is a significant exporter of steel products, with the US, the UAE, and Nepal being major export destinations.
  • In 2017, the National Steel Policy was launched with a goal of achieving crude steel capacity of 300 million tonnes (MT), production of 255 MT, and robust finished steel per capita consumption of 158 Kgs by 2030-31.
Impact of Steel Industry on GHG Emissions and Pollution
  • The steel industry is one of the largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases, responsible for approximately 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
  • The pollutants produced by steel industries include particulate matter such as PM2.5 and PM 10, oxides of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and solid waste.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024