The road to sustainable steel
From buildings and bridges to cars and household appliances, modern society is built on steel. Now, SSAB is revolutionizing the industry with its emission-free steels, which will enable a fossil-free future.
The world needs steel. It’s strong, durable, and fully recyclable. However, traditional steelmaking has a heavy environmental impact/footprint. In fact, the steel industry currently accounts for no less than 7 percent of the world’s total CO2 emissions.
But this can – and must – change. SSAB is currently upscaling and commercializing the world’s first fossil-free steelmaking technology, known as HYBRIT, in cooperation with partners LKAB and Vattenfall. By replacing the coking coal traditionally used in iron ore-based steelmaking with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen, the process produces steel with virtually no carbon footprint. SSAB Fossil-free™ steel will be launched on the market in 2026.
Concurrently, SSAB is also working with recycled steel, and in March 2023 launched a zero emission steel made from recycled raw material – SSAB Zero™. By incorporating recycled steel into production, SSAB Zero™ can help achieve a circular economy and reduce the environmental impact of the steel industry.
SSAB Zero™ is produced in electric arc furnaces (EAF) using recycled steel as the raw material, while the production process is powered by fossil-free electricity and biogas. The result is steel produced with virtually zero emissions.
“By utilizing steel scrap and fossil-free energy, we can make a significant contribution towards decarbonizing the steel industry,” says Thomas Hörnfeldt, Vice President Sustainable Business. “Along with our continued efforts to develop the world’s first fossil-free steel, SSAB Zero™ will be an important part of our future comprehensive zero fossil carbon-emission steel offering.”
Both SSAB Zero and SSAB Fossil-free steel are produced with no fossil carbon emissions, with production powered entirely by fossil-free electricity and biogas. The key difference is that SSAB Zero is produced using recycled steel, whereas SSAB Fossil-free™ steel is based on iron-ore without fossil fuels. Currently there is not enough scrap steel available to meet global demand, while the commercialization of fossil-free steel is still a few years away. As such, SSAB Zero™ and SSAB Fossil-free™ are not competing products – in fact, they have been developed to complement each other towards the same goal: zero fossil carbon emission.
“Based on the increasing customer demand for fossil-free steel, we soon realized that we could use more than one technology to meet the challenge of decarbonization,” says Hörnfeldt. “We now have a comprehensive offer of zero carbon emission steels, so that regardless of the ironmaking process – based on iron ore or recycled scrap – SSAB will have the best offering on the market.”
In many industries that rely on steel, finding greener alternatives is imperative to combating climate change.
However, when it comes to SSAB Zero™ and SSAB Fossil-free™ steel, SSAB does not engage in any mass balancing allocation of emission reduction or carbon offsetting activities. The carbon emission reductions are real and tangible. SSAB is completely transparent about any associated carbon emissions, no matter how small, and the carbon footprint of both steels will be verified by a third-party.
“We understand that for many of our customers, steel represents a large part of their own carbon footprint, so they need complete transparency,” says Hörnfeldt. “We always ensure our steels are delivered with accurate and reliable values, which our customers can use with confidence in their own footprint calculations.”
Based on increasing customer demand, SSAB is developing two steels with zero fossil carbon emission.
SSAB Zero™ is based on recycled steel, using electric arc furnaces powered by fossil-free electricity and biogas. It was launched in the US and Europe in March 2023, with more markets to follow. SSAB Zero™ has zero fossil carbon emission (less than 0.05 kg CO2e emissions per kg steel in scope 1 and 2) in operations, including purchased energy and transportation. SSAB practices market-based emission factors for the electricity used and may secure fossil-free electricity through electricity guarantees of origin. Fossil fuels remain in the ground as SSAB has implemented a system to manage and ensure the correct source and use of alternatives connected to the production of SSAB Zero™. Only recycled steel is used as the raw material, which means SSAB Zero™ supports the circular economy. SSAB does not engage in carbon emission offsetting activities.
SSAB Fossil-free™ steel is based on the patented HYBRIT® technology with direct reduction of iron ore using fossil-free hydrogen. SSAB aims to produce the steel at a commercial scale in 2026.
The steel industry is currently one of the highest carbon emitters, accounting for 7% of all emissions globally. While SSAB is already one of the world’s most efficient steelmakers, we know that the industry still has a long way to go. Our objective is to lead the steel industry to a decarbonized future.
An investment in steel without carbon emissions adds value to your business by eliminating the carbon footprint in the steel part of your value chain. Apart from a large end-customer demand, it enables the SSAB's customers to become forerunners and take the leading position within their industries, offering products of superior quality and with a very low carbon footprint.
Both SSAB Zero™ and SSAB Fossil-free™ steel, are steels with no carbon emissions. SSAB Zero is based on scrap. SSAB Fossil-free steel is based on iron-ore produced without fossil fuels, using HYBRIT® technology. Independent of the raw material, to our knowledge, SSAB will have the lowest emission steel offering. SSAB Zero™ and SSAB Fossil-free™ steel will have the quality and properties.
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SSAB Fossil-free™ steel is produced by using HYBRIT® technology, with direct reduction of iron ore using fossil-free hydrogen – emitting water instead of CO2.