First in fossil-free steel

SSAB is taking the lead in decarbonizing the steel industry. With HYBRIT technology, SSAB aims to be the first steel company in the world to bring fossil-free steel to the market already in 2026. SSAB will be practically fossil free by 2045.

SSAB to be first with fossil-free steel with HYBRIT technology

Together with our partners and customers, SSAB aims to create a fossil-free value chain, from the mine to the end-product.

In 2016, SSAB, LKAB (Europe’s largest iron ore producer) and Vattenfall (one of Europe’s largest energy companies) joined forces to create HYBRIT – an initiative that endeavors to revolutionize steelmaking. Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steelmaking, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. The result will be the world’s first fossil-free steelmaking technology, with virtually no carbon footprint.

The steel industry is one of the highest CO2-emitting industries, accounting for 7% of CO2 emissions globally. A growing global population and expanding urbanization are expected to trigger a rise in global steel demand by 2050. Recycled scrap will not sufficiently meet the growing demand for new steel. The carbon footprint in the steel industry is thus a challenge for Europe and the rest of the world. Sweden has unique conditions for this kind of project, with good access to fossil-free electricity, the highest-quality iron ore and a specialized, innovative steel industry. SSAB has also started to investigate the possibilities of broadening the initiative to include Finland.

All production sites will be converted

SSAB will cut our CO2emissions in Sweden by 25% by as early as 2025, through the conversion of the blast furnaces in Oxelösund, Sweden, to an electric arc furnace. Between 2030-2040, the plan is to convert the blast furnaces in Luleå, Sweden and Raahe, Finland to eliminate most of the remaining CO2 emissions.

The company anticipates that our Iowa operations will be powered by renewable energy by 2022. Our Americas operations will be able to offer fossil-free steel products starting in 2026, utilizing sponge iron developed using HYBRIT technology in Sweden. At the same time, SSAB has started the process of phasing out fossil fuels used in rolling mills and heat treatment plants throughout the company, to reach the goal of becoming fossil-free by 2045.

Fossil free steel timeline

Phases

Pre-feasibility study

A pre-feasibility study, conducted in 2016-2017, concluded that fossil-free steel, given today’s price of electricity, coal and cost of CO2 emissions, would be 20-30% more expensive. With declining prices in electricity from fossil-free sources and increasing costs of CO2 emissions through the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS), the pre-feasibility study also concluded that fossil-free steel will, in the future, be able to compete in the market with traditional steel.

Pilot phase

In the summer of 2018, work started on the construction of a globally-unique pilot plant for fossil-free steel production at the SSAB site in Luleå, Sweden. In the HYBRIT pilot plant, we will produce hydrogen by electrolyzing water and then use the hydrogen to test the direct reduction of iron ore to make direct reduced iron (DRI), also called sponge iron. The DRI is then used as virgin material together with recycled scrap for steelmaking. The pilot plant will be ready in 2020.

In the summer of 2019, construction also started on a plant for fossil-free pellets at the LKAB site in Malmberget, Sweden. Here, fossil fuels will be replaced with biofuel to achieve fossil-free production of iron ore pellets.

A decision has also been made to build a pilot hydrogen storage facility, 25-35 meters below the ground, on LKAB's land at Svartöberget, close to the HYBRIT pilot plant currently under construction on SSAB's site in Luleå. The pilot storage facility is expected to operate from 2022 to 2024.

The total cost committed of the initiative during the pilot phase is estimated to be SEK 2 billion. The Swedish Energy Agency has commited to contribute SEK 599 million and the three owners, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, will contribute the remaining costs in equal shares.

Demonstration phase

Recently, the owners behind the HYBRIT initiative announced that they will start efforts to prepare for the demonstration phase, three years before plan. The new plan is to have a HYBRIT demonstration plant in place in 2025, at the same time as the conversion of SSAB’s blast furnace site in Oxelösund in Sweden, which will enable SSAB to produce iron ore-based, fossil-free steel for commercial use in 2026. There is a growing interest from customers to lower the CO2 footprint in their value chain, which opens up great potential for fossil-free steel as a premium product.

Hybrit plant
HYBRIT plant under construction in Luleå

In order to carry out the HYBRIT initiative, significant contributions are needed from social entities including government, research institutions and universities. The project's success will be impacted by access to fossil-free electricity, improved infrastructure and rapid expansion of high voltage networks, faster permit processes and the government’s active support for the pilot and demonstration facilities and long-term support at EU level.

Videos and presentations

Latest news

Dec 4 2019

SSAB initiates study in Finland for fossil-free steel

SSAB starts a study in Finland for fossil-free steelmaking. In line with the HYBRIT project, SSAB is taking the next step for a completely fossil-free steel value chain. In partnership with Gasum, Neste and St1, SSAB is initiating an Energy4HYBRIT prefeasibility study supported by Business Finland to investigate the use of fossil-free energy sources, primarily biomaterial side-streams, to replace fossil fuels in certain steelmaking processes, for example rolling processes. The Raahe mill will act as SSAB’s pilot.

Nov 14 2019

SSAB to be first to market with fossil-free steel

Global steel company SSAB plans to be the first company in the world to get fossil-free steel onto the market. The plan for transitioning to iron-ore based fossil-free steel production was presented to more than 400 customers and key players in the industry, in conjunction with SSAB’s Swedish Steel Prize seminars this week in Stockholm.

Oct 3 2019

HYBRIT: SEK 200 million invested in pilot plant for storage of fossil-free hydrogen in Luleå

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, the owners behind the HYBRIT initiative, are investing SEK 150 million and the Swedish Energy Agency is contributing almost SEK 50 million towards the construction of a storage facility for hydrogen at the HYBRIT pilot plant for fossil-free steel. The investment is an important step towards the goal of fossil-free iron and steel production.