#DiversityInScience - In Search of Clean Steel

H2Future building

A sustainable future is indisputably the topic for current research. Central elements of this are deciding how the transition to clean forms of energy should be achieved and promoting the decarbonization of industry. The K1-MET centre of excellence for metallurgy, a member of the UAR Innovation Network, has made clean steel production its mission and is researching the use of green hydrogen in steel production. Below, researchers talk about their work:

DI.in Dr.in Irmela Kofler © K1-MET

“Green hydrogen is an option with great potential for achieving the energy transition. It produces zero pollution because it can be created using renewable energy sources. As part of the H2FUTURE project, which is supported by the EU and has K1-MET as a partner, large-scale production was achieved on a demonstration plant for the first time using proton-exchange membrane electrolysis. In this method, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using a proton-conducting membrane and with the aid of electricity from renewable energy sources. H2FUTURE, with its 6 megawatts (MW), is one of the world’s biggest plants, generating 1,200 m3 of hydrogen per hour. More in-depth research is to be conducted with a view to gradually increasing the use of green electricity and green hydrogen in the steel production process in the long term.”

DIin Dr.in Irmela Kofler
Head of the Low Carbon Energy Systems research unit at K1-MET

Dr Christine Gruber © K1-MET

The topic of digitalization is also an important aspect of efforts towards carbon-neutral steel production: “To establish green hydrogen as a key technology for decarbonization of the steel industry, the costs and efficiency of hydrogen-based steel production must be optimized. In addition, it will be necessary to continue with the traditional methods of steel production during the transition to the new technologies and to keep the negative impact that these methods have on the environment to a minimum. Digitalization makes a crucial contribution here. It helps to improve the existing production processes and so save resources and minimize emissions. It supports research into new technologies with process simulations, for example. This yields important findings for the future development of these technologies.”

Dr.in Christine Gruber
Head of the Simulation and Analyses research unit at K1-MET