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Methanol as a Carrier of Hydrogen and Carbon in Fossil-free Production of Direct Reduced Iron


Steelmaking is responsible for around 7% of the global emissions of carbon dioxide and new steelmaking processes are necessary to reach international climate targets. As a response to this, steelmaking processes based on the direct reduction of iron ore by hydrogen produced via water electrolysis powered by renewable electricity have been suggested. Here we present a novel variant of hydrogen-based steelmaking incorporating methanol as a hydrogen and carbon carrier together with high-temperature co-electrolysis of water and carbon dioxide and biomass oxy-fuel combustion. The energy and mass balances of the process are analyzed. It is found that this methanol-based direct reduction process may potentially offer a number of process-related advantages over a process based on pure hydrogen, featuring several process integration options. Notably, the electricity and total energy use of the steelmaking process could be reduced by up to 25% and 8% compared to a reference pure hydrogen process, respectively. The amount of high-temperature (> 200 °C) heat that must be supplied to the process could also be reduced by up to approximately 34%, although the demand for medium-temperature heat is substantially increased. Furthermore, the suggested process could allow for the production of high-quality direct reduced iron with appropriate carburization to alleviate downstream processing in an electric arc furnace, which is not the case for a process based on pure hydrogen.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Sweden

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