Hydrogen DRI pilot plant starts up in Germany

A venture named HyIron has started up what it says is so far the world’s largest hydrogen-based direct reduction plant for the production of green iron, in Lingen, Germany.

HyIron is combined of TS Group from Aachen and LSF Energy from Paderborn. TS Group describes itself a pioneer in technical solutions in the field of fuel cells, batteries, and industrial furnaces, while LSF Energy has many years of experience in the generation of renewable energies.

HyIron’s associated partners in the project are energy group RWE and tubemaker Benteler Steel/Tube. The plant is located on the site of RWE’s branch in the Emsland region in Lower Saxony, chosen for its high density of hydrogen projects.

The partners are pondering the use of sponge iron in steel production from 2024, Kallanish understands. This will be melted down with steel scrap and further processed into steel. Benteler Steel/Tube wants to use the steel produced in Lingen to make low-CO2 tubes. The first step in the research project is to produce 1 tonne/hour of iron using green hydrogen.

In Namibia, HyIron is currently setting up industrial-scale production of iron ore with the support of the German economy ministry. “In the long term, we will be able to produce there up to 2 million tonnes/year of iron for the German steel industry. Here in Lingen, we are already using iron ore from Namibia to optimise the process and the product,” says Stephan Köhne, managing partner of HyIron.

The process uses a proprietary gas-tight rotary kiln in which the hydrogen reacts completely with the oxygen in the iron ore and converts it into direct reduced iron. In the future, the green hydrogen for HyIron will be produced in RWE’s 14-megawatt pilot electrolysis plant, which is expected to start operating directly next to the direct reduction plant at the end of 2023.

Christian Koehl Germany