SMS proposes ‘EasyMelt’ syngas furnaces for cleaner steel

Plant-builder SMS Group has designed technology to act as an intermediate step in the transition to low-emission steelmaking, and is looking for industrial partners to develop this with.

The path to low-emission steel envisaged by most steelmakers involves direct reduced iron plus an electric arc furnace. Ideally, these will be fuelled with hydrogen, but until there is enough of it available, mills plan to work with natural gas for a transitory period.

Given mills are looking for pathways that preserve facilities they already use, SMS says it asked itself: “Is there another way to maintain existing facilities? We say yes and we call it EasyMelt, Electrically Assisted SYngas sMELTer,” Jörg Brinckmann, head of green steel at SMS subsidiary Paul Wurth, said at last week’s Green Day conference organised by German steel stockholders federation BDS, attended by Kallanish.

According to Brinckmann, EasyMelt can make do with a fifth of today’s consumption of 300kg of coke and 200kg of pulverised coal injection as long as hydrogen is not sufficiently available. Basically, “we take a DRI facility and put it over a blast furnace,” he explained. The agent for the reduction process will by synthetic gas in small volumes which can be disposed of with carbon capturing.

In view of regional supply shortages of natural gas, “EasyMelt is an option for regions which have no natural gas resources”, he added. Apart from many European countries, this also applies to strong steel-producing nations like Korea and Japan, he pointed out.

Christian Koehl Germany