LIBERTY, Paul Wurth and SHS to deliver first French DRI and hydrogen plant

LIBERTY Steel Group, part of GFG Alliance Group, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with technology provider Paul Wurth and SHS-Stahl-Holding-Saar (SHS) to assess the construction and operation of an industrial-sized, hydrogen-based steelmaking plant which, if developed, would be one of the first operations of its type in France, the companies stated in a joint press note on Feb 22. The companies will team up on a project to incorporate a 2 million mt/year direct reduced iron (DRI) plant, with an integrated 1 GW capacity hydrogen electrolysis production unit, next to GFG’s ALVANCE Aluminium Dunkerque site in France.

According to the press release, the DRI plant will initially use a mix of hydrogen and natural gas as the reductant to produce DRI and hot-briquetted iron (HBI), before using 100% hydrogen once the electrolysis production unit is complete. The DRI/HBI produced will primarily be used in the electric arc furnace of LIBERTY special steel producer Ascoval in France but any surplus will be used at LIBERTY’s Ostrava and Galati integrated steelworks as well as the SHS-group’s Dillinger and Saarstahl plants in Germany.

LIBERTY has been working with Paul Wurth and SHS on the technical and economic viability of the project since early last year. The MoU covers two phases: Phase 1 is expected to take around 12 weeks and will improve the accuracy of the project’s commercial and technical feasibility and Phase 2 will deliver the level of detail required for the effective implementation of the project.

“This project will realize the potential of steel and hydrogen working together to solve each other’s problems. Our industry needs to reinvent steel production fast, as the need to cut our emissions gets ever more pressing against a backdrop of rising global demand for our products and legislative pressure to become carbon neutral..,” said Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of GFG Alliance and LIBERTY Steel Group.

LIBERTY declined to comment on the investment envisaged for this project when asked by S&P Global Platts.

— Annalisa Villa