Tenova tests hydrogen for steelmaking

Steel equipment maker Tenova, in partnership with Italian energy companies De Nora, Snam and other European steelmakers, is testing green hydrogen to decarbonise steel production. This is within the framework of the “hybrid technologies for sustainable steel reheating” (HyTecHeat) project.

Funded by the European Commission for a budget of about €3.3 million ($3.5m), HyTecHeat will be testing hybrid heating technologies based on natural gas with a progressive increase of hydrogen up to 100% in downstream processing, Kallanish learns from Tenova.

The firm will install an electrolyser at its Italian headquarters in Castellanza that will test industrial burners. “Three demo cases testing innovative multifuel burners will facilitate the hydrogen transition of the steel sector paving the way for the abatement of Scope 1 CO2 emissions … One of the demo cases Tenova is participating in is focused on the system integration between hydrogen-ready burner, electrolyser, and storage systems,” Tenova explains.

Snam will provide the hydrogen storage system and De Nora will supply its new electrolyser called the Dragonfly. Besides the burners, the testing will cover the entire production process from green energy production to a photovoltaic system, hydrogen generation, and storage, process control and safety issues.

The project responds to the need to develop an industrial-scale technology that includes renewable hydrogen production, storage, and usage in thermal combustion processes.

Several sources in the steel industry, however, believe green hydrogen production and storage is currently too expensive a technology to decarbonise steelmaking.

Despite investing in companies involved in hydrogen through its “XCarb” innovation fund, ArcelorMittal said in 2021 that decarbonising steel from other carbon capturing technologies has proven more effective so far, and less expensive.

ArcelorMittal Europe chief executive Geert van Poelvoorde reiterated last month that using green hydrogen in the short term would push steelmakers out of the market for being uncompetitive (see Kallanish passim).

Antonio Gozzi, owner of Duferco, previously said decarbonised gas may be the best and most achievable solution for Italian energy independence and cheap energy for industry and households. Gas prices may decline significantly in the coming years due to lower future European demand and massive supply in the Mediterranean area, where giant deposits will make it largely available. Gas could be cheaply imported into Italy from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Israel or Cyprus.

An industrial country such as Italy needs base load energy besides intermittent renewable sources, Gozzi said. Green hydrogen production requires vast renewable energy and water, which is a precious and rare commodity, he added.

Natalia Capra France