SSAB and POSCO set sights on a greener future

As the steel industry faces increasing pressure to decarbonize, Swedish SSAB and South Korean steelmakers POSCO are blazing the trail toward steel decarbonization and a greener future. Last month, the two companies co-hosted a global forum for Hydrogen Iron & Steel Making in Stockholm.

In 2016, SSAB and its partners Swedish iron ore producer LKAB and energy company Vattenfall launched the HYBRIT initiative. The objective is to develop a process based on fossil-free electricity and hydrogen that will make it possible to make steel from iron ore without CO2 emissions, by replacing the carbon used in iron ore reduction with hydrogen, thus eliminating the root cause of CO2 emissions. Since then, more companies have begun to recognize the huge potential of hydrogen-based steelmaking – including South Korea’s leading steel producer POSCO.

Watch the presentation about the HYBRIT® technology at the Hydrogen Iron & Steel Making Forum 2022.

Spreading the word about fossil-free steel

“POSCO and SSAB share a joint commitment to develop new technologies based on hydrogen direct reduction,” says Martin Pei, SSAB’s CTO and initiator of the HYBRIT initiative. “We want to inspire others to join us in decarbonizing our whole industry.”

This year’s conference followed a similar event hosted by POSCO and attended by SSAB last year in the South Korean capital Seoul.

“After the forum last year, POSCO approached us and invited SSAB to co-host it in Stockholm this year,” Pei continues, adding that he hopes the event will become an annual occurrence that will continue to provide a platform for the global steel industry to exchange knowledge and inspiration “for a greener future”.

For SSAB, the forum was an opportunity to showcase the considerable progress that has already been made with the HYBRIT initiative.

Inspiring others toward steel decarbonization

“We wanted to show what we’ve achieved so far in order for more companies to see the opportunities offered by this new technology, and to take steps to drive the transformation together,” Pei continues, adding, “We dubbed the conference ‘together for a greener future’ because our main purpose was to share our progress with HYBRIT and to inspire others to pursue similar collaborations.”

While SSAB and its partners LKAB and Vattenfall have developed this new steelmaking technology, Pei is quick to emphasize that the company does not plan on keeping it for itself. Going forward, other companies will be able to use this technology on a licensing basis.

“We want to involve as many stakeholders as possible from the whole value chain – including mining companies, technology providers and customers – all of whom stand to benefit,” he explains.


Hydrogen Iron & Steel Making Forum 2022

The jointly hosted event, which took place at Stockholm’s Fotografiska Museum on October 12-13, brought together some 100 people from around the world to share their thoughts, ideas and solutions about climate-related issues. A further 1,000 participants followed the event online. Those attending ranged from steelmakers to mining companies and technology suppliers, as well as policymakers and other stakeholders.

Apart from a series of speeches and panel debates, the conference also included a site visit to SSAB’s blast furnace and the HYBRIT pilot plant at SSAB Luleå in the north of Sweden.

In his opening address, Jeong-Woo Choi, POSCO Group’s CEO, labeled it ‘co-opetition’, a merger of cooperation and competition. The sentiment is echoed by Martin Pei:

“We don’t want to be alone with this technology,” he concludes. “My personal hope for this conference is that it will inspire others to join the transition to a fossil-free future.”

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